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Russia's Quest for New Friends in Africa: Nigerian Expert on Lavrov's African Tour

© Sputnik . Press service of the Russian Foreign Ministry / Go to the mediabankSergei Lavrov (3rd from left) and Morissada Kouyaté (3rd from right) in Guinea, June 3, 2024
Sergei Lavrov (3rd from left) and Morissada Kouyaté (3rd from right) in Guinea, June 3, 2024 - Sputnik Africa, 1920, 04.06.2024
The sixth African tour of Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov's began on Monday. The top diplomat first flew to Guinea, and on Tuesday went to the Republic of Congo. Sputnik Africa spoke with an expert about the significance of this visit and how Russia can win African hearts.
Russia is looking for new friends in Africa while at the same time making efforts to maintain good relations with those countries with which it already has ties, Christian Ezeibe, Professor of Political Economy and Development Studies, Department of Political Science, University of Nigeria, told Sputnik Africa.

"They [Russia] are looking for new friends across the globe, and they feel that Africa presents a very robust opportunity for maintaining its economy at this time, which is facing several sanctions from a number of European nations and a lot of nations that are members of NATO," he said.

Africa can provide such economic support through its markets, the professor pointed out.

"So they are looking for a new market where they can continue the distribution, the sale of what they have produced, […] and there is a market in Africa. And if there's a market, then there is nothing wrong with Russia coming, too. [As] long as the terms of trade [are] beneficial to African nations, African nations are going to embrace this," Ezeibe argued.

Keeping it in mind during Lavrov's current visit, some investment-related agreements could be signed, as well as military ones, according to the scientist.

"They [Russia] want to be closer to Africa, [...] they are going to likely come with more investments in Africa. But they can't come with those investments [...] without a military base that will protect some of [the] investments [...]. The investments could be in any form: [they] could be in the form of striking an oil deal with some of [...] African countries […]," the speaker said.

At the same time, the key line of the interview was the expert's idea that Russia has a chance to show Africa that with its help the continent can reach new heights.

"Most African countries […] may favor Russian ideologies, […] Russian disposition, [...] diplomatic, [...] military and economic relations [...] if they are going to benefit more than what they have […] benefited from the Global West over the past five, six decades […]," Ezeibe said.

Нигерийцы с российским флагом в руках участвуют в марше, организованном сторонниками лидера государственного переворота генерала Дж. Абдурахман Кьянти в Ниамее - Sputnik Africa, 1920, 25.04.2024
‘Russia is Highly Welcomed’: Nigerian Expert on Why Country is Gaining Support in Africa
Talking about Western policies in Africa, the professor criticized the Western type of democracy that has been imposed on the continent but hasn't improved the lives of ordinary people.

"It appears, Russia is going to win more nations in Africa. Since 1950s, 1960s, most African nations have followed the Western European model of democracy. [...] It is thought that democracy was going to lead to economic development, but it has not happened. [...] The quality of education is still poor [...]. Access to health care facilities is limited. [...] So if exploring Russian contact would do us any good, I think we should go with it. There is nothing wrong with that," Ezeibe pondered.

Russia, which is actively developing relations with countries such as Niger, Mali, and Burkina Faso, can use their example to show that cooperation with it is attractive and that it offers a better "alternative" to the West.

"Russia has a very huge potential and prospects in going deeper and mainstreaming itself into the African economy, African politics, African religion, everything about Africa. [...] The litmus test for Russia's deep penetration in Africa is what happens to some of these Russian-backed military regimes in Africa. We talk about Niger, we talk about Gabon, Burkina Faso. If these countries do well within the next one year, then other countries will follow suit," the professor concluded.