Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, welcomes Egypt's President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi during their meeting in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, Russia, Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2019. (AP)
The first African-Russian Summit and Economic Forum ended late last week with agreements to face common political challenges while boosting international trade and economic cooperation between Russia and the African countries.
Meeting in the Russian coastal city of Sochi, the summit’s co-presidents, Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi and Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, agreed to intensify efforts to combat climate change on the African continent and to share relevant technologies.
The two leaders stressed the importance of the African countries’ capacity-building and the need to enhance their resilience to climate-change.
Egypt’s Presidential Spokesman Bassam Radi said that the summit’s final communiqué had affirmed Russia’s and the African countries’ support for the peaceful settlement of disputes in accordance with the principles of international law and of the United Nations. This was in addition to reducing escalation in areas of tension and promoting peaceful cooperation among countries, he said.
He noted that Russia and the African countries had agreed on the full implementation of internationally recognised principles and norms. “Countries participating in the summit also agreed to consider unilateral measures that violate international law and include unilateral sanctions as illegal practices,” Radi said.
He noted that the final communiqué of the summit had shown that Russia and the African countries had agreed to coordinate efforts to implement the goals and principles of the UN Charter and to revitalise the UN’s role in international affairs, especially in ensuring international peace and security.
Participants at the summit also agreed to penalise people and organisations providing any form of direct or indirect support to entities or persons involved in terrorist acts.
Both the Russian and the African sides agreed to cooperate closely to settle and prevent conflicts in Africa, to ensure the safety, vitality and extension of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), and to cooperate in the post-conflict reconstruction and development of the African continent.
Presidents Al-Sisi and Putin agreed to hold similar meetings once every three years, alternately hosted by Russia and a country from the African continent. The heads of state agreed on increasing the volume of trade between Russia and Africa, which currently stands at about $20 billion, to $40 billion over the coming years.
President Putin noted that Russian companies were ready to cooperate with African partners in areas of infrastructure modernisation, telecommunications system development, and digital technology. He stressed that Russia’s cooperation with Africa was based on the mutual interests of the parties and that Russian companies were ready to provide the latest technology and expertise to their partners in Africa.
Radi pointed to the signing of more than 30 contracts and memoranda of understanding between Russia and the African countries at the summit to a value of $13 billion. The most notable announcements were the launch of a $5 billion mutual fund, an important contract for Russian railways in Egypt totalling about $1 billion, and major military contracts with a number of other African countries.
According to the final communiqué of the summit, Russia will continue to train military and law-enforcement personnel in the African countries in Russian educational facilities in a move aimed at enhancing the combat-effectiveness of African forces.
*A version of this article appears in print in the 31 October, 2019 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly.