Russia and Africa Must Invent 'Formula for Cooperation' at Upcoming Summit, Valdai Experts Say

© Sputnik . Michael Metzel / Go to the mediabankThe 19th Annual Meeting of the Valdai International Discussion Club on October 27, 2022.
The 19th Annual Meeting of the Valdai International Discussion Club on October 27, 2022.  - Sputnik Africa, 1920, 19.07.2023
Four years ago, the Valdai International Discussion Club presented a report outlining the prospects for cooperation between Russia and the continent in the run-up to the historic Russia-Africa Summit in Sochi. A new report reflects on the results of the summit and calls for a new approach to Russia-Africa relations.
The second Russia-Africa Summit will determine the prospects for further interaction between Russia and African countries in various fields of mutual interest, said the Valdai International Discussion club in its new report entitled "Russia and Africa: An Audit of Relations."
The summit is scheduled for the end of this month in St Petersburg, Russia.
In the document published on the Valdai website, the authors stressed that Russia needs a "smart", competitive African strategy, and a comprehensive roadmap for its implementation.
They recalled that previous efforts to enhance cooperation mostly failed due to numerous external factors, including the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as geopolitical changes.

"Given the announced turn to the south, Russia needs its own unique mechanisms, as well as universal tools for building a Russian-African economic policy," the experts emphasized.

The opening day of the First Russia–Africa Economic Forum in Sochi.  - Sputnik Africa, 1920, 18.07.2023
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Commenting on the work of Russian business in Africa over the past four years, the authors explained that only those companies that have been operating on the continent for at least ten years are still active and relatively successful in Africa. However, they failed to become "drivers of the new wave" of cooperation.
It was noted that the projects announced from time to time are only "rare and timid attempts" to integrate into the continent's economy and open up new markets for Russian companies.
The authors noted that modern Africa "thinks in long-term strategic terms," referring to the Agenda-2063 and other development strategies and projects. In this regard, it is necessary to coordinate Russian proposals with the continent's development mechanisms and formats. Such support for intra-African programs will be more effective, as African governments "will see the synergy between Russian assistance and their own tasks."
"By understanding the interests and goals of Africans, Russia could provide significant assistance in the strategic approach to the development of African economies," read the report.
In particular, the report pointed out that the African Continental Free Trade Area may become a "good" platform for joint economic projects, given Russia's experience in implementing such models.
Moreover, the priority areas and roadmaps outlined in the Agenda-2063, a document adopted in 2015 by the African Union, open up many opportunities for Russia, including in the field of energy and infrastructure.

"The Agenda-2063 is a kind of development project with a clearly indicated vision of the future [...]," the experts said, adding: "At the second Russia-Africa Summit, Russia will have to find a formula for modern mutually-beneficial cooperation with Africa within this vision of the future."

The African Heads of States and Governments pose during African Union (AU) Summit for the agreement to establish the African Continental Free Trade Area in Kigali, Rwanda, on March 21, 2018.  - Sputnik Africa, 1920, 23.04.2023
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According to the authors of the report, it is necessary for Russia to identify areas in which it can provide assistance to the development of Africa, at the same time being a "full-fledged and highly competent partner."
In particular, they pointed to the problems the continent is facing in food and energy security, lack of a developed energy system and energy logistics, and an infrastructural and technological vacuum. In these areas, they noted, Russia could provide support for African nations.
The report emphasized that by strengthening relations with African countries, Russia is not trying to compete with other external forces in the region, but is bringing "added value" to the continent in the form of its development projects.