Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi has called on Russian and international firms to invest in Africa, stressing during the first-ever Russia-Africa summit on Wednesday that this is the "ideal time" for economic openness to the continent.
The Egyptian President also urged regional and international funding bodies to back development efforts in the continent by offering special conditions and powerful incentives to projects and development programs there.
The summit is co-chaired by President El-Sisi, who holds the rotating presidency of the 55-nation African Union (AU), and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Speaking at the opening session in the seaside resort of Sochi, El-Sisi urged African leaders to work to improve business climate and promote private-public partnership in the region, and unite to achieve "peace, stability, economic growth and development" for its people.
Russian President Vladimir Putin told the gathering that his country is among the top 10 importers from Africa, but called for further boosting of trade with the continent.
Moscow says trade with African countries climbed to $20 billion in 2018.
Russia is setting up a major industrial zone comprising 23 firms in a planned international industrial and logistics hub near Egypt's Suez Canal, and Putin say there are plans for more firms to join in the future.
"We are working very actively in these areas. We want to invest $190 mln in infrastructure development and attract up to $7 bln," Tass news agency quoted Putin as saying during a meeting with El-Sisi right after the summit.
Russian-Egyptian relations were developing very positively, with trade turnover growing by 14% last year to reach $7.7 billion, Putin added, according to Tass.
The Russian leader said the United Arab Emirates is "very interested" in taking part in joint development plans between Cairo and Moscow in the production sector.
African countries are putting infrastructure development and promoting economic integration at the forefront of joint cooperation, according to El-Sisi.
They also agree that human development is another "key prerequisite" for sustainable development in a continent where people under 25 years of age make up 65 of the 1.2 billion population.
A Russia–Africa Economic Forum is being held alongside the two-day summit which brings together more than 40 African leaders.
The forum, which will be attended by African heads of state, representatives of Russian, African, and international business and government bodies, will open up a myriad of commercial and investment opportunities and help develop economic ties between African countries and Russia, according to El-Sisi
A number of trade, economic, and investment agreements is expected to be signed after the forum concludes.
Besides boosting political and economic cooperation, the summit is planned to lay out measures to fight terrorism, cross-border crime, and threats to regional and global security.
A joint document will be adopted following its conclusion, according to the summit's official website.