The Vice President Paa Kwesi Amissah-Arthur yesterday advocated the establishment of an active joint economic cooperation between Africa and Russia to push for an effective development partnership between the two countries.
That, he said, would ensure that a viable platform was created for sustainable development interventions for the mutual benefit of Africa and Russia.
Vice President Amissah-Arthur made the call during a panel discussion on Africa-Russia relations at the ongoing St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF), here in Russia.
He reminded Russia of the need to pursue its quest for increased cooperation with Africa with a participatory partnership approach since Africa was looking for investments that would add value to her resources and advance socio-economic growth.
The panel discussion, which also had contributions from other leaders from Africa and Russia, including President Alpha Conde of Guinea, had the theme, “Russia-Africa relations-advancing new frontiers.”
It signifies the quest for Russia to revamp its relations with Africa.
Described as traditional partners, Russia and Africa used to have a vibrant political and economic relationship before and after Africa’s independence era in the 1950s, but that friendship slowed down drastically over the past two decades, allowing economies like China to take over that space for active bilateral cooperation.
Vice President Amissah-Arthur lauded the objective of Russia’s renewal of ties with African countries, saying a major global economy; Russia still had the opportunity to offer its investment partnership in African countries.
Explaining the nature of economic cooperation Africa needs, he noted that the era in which foreign investors’ only extracted resources from Africa to export to their countries for value addition was no more.
“Africa is no longer seeing herself, as considered by other continents, as a source of raw materials and market for finished products.
“Africa considers herself as a strategic viable zone looking for sustainable investment and cooperation to add value to her resources and improve the process of manufacturing for the benefit of her people,” he said.
To ensure the success of the agenda to renew the cooperation with Africa, Vice President Amissah-Arthur urged Russia to offer a strong commitment to support the development of the resources in Africa.
“There must be a change in the narrative,” he stressed, adding that the cooperation with Russia need to translate into meaningful mutual benefits from the two sides.
Touching on the focus of Africa’s regional integration agenda, he noted that there was a current surge in trade among African countries since intra African trade and cooperation, offered the continent viable economic advantage for development.
President Alpha Conde, for his part, noted that Africa was currently witnessing increased economic evolution which had taken the place of the past revolutionary changes on the continent.
“Africa has a lot of good sides in spite of the problems of poverty and underdevelopment,” he said and cited remarkable growth achieved in the ICT, manufacturing and the telecommunications sectors over the last decade, as indicative of the vast potential of the continent.
Mr. Mzwandie Masina, South Africa’s Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, also contributing, allayed the fears of Russian businesses about risks in investing in Africa.
On the political front, Burundian Vice President, Joseph Butore, urged Russia to avoid meddling in politics in Africa so as to ensure the success of its renewed relationship with the continent
Mr. Mikhail Bogdanov, Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister of Russia, noted that Russia was worried about the low level of cooperation between Africa and Russia, and was taken necessary steps to improve the situation.
As part of the interventions, he said Russia had stepped up its bilateral cooperation with a number of African countries and sub-regional institutions in the areas of economic development, trade, education and security
United Nations’ Secretary-General, Ban Ki-Moon, at the main official opening ceremony of SPIEF 2016, urged countries and continental blocs to “build bridges” and avoid actions that woud hinder inter-national and inter-regional cooperation.
He also called for global action to address the root causes of extremism and terrorism.
He said although the UN would continue to support countries and regional blocs to fight terrorism, the most effective way of addressing terrorism menace was to identity and address the root cause.
The three-day event, which is being attended by hundreds of participants including Heads of State, business leaders, academics, the media, and civil society figures from both advanced and developing countries , among other objectives has a special focus on how advanced countries could provide effective partnership with developing African economies.
SPIEF is a prestigious event in the world of economics and business. Over the past decade, it has grown into a leading global platform for conversations among representatives of the business community and as a venue to discuss key economic issues facing Russia, emerging markets, and the world.
From Edmund Mingle, St. Petersburg