Eurasianet (USA): will Russia have the success in Africa?

Eurasianet (США): ждет ли Россию успех в Африке?

Russia intends to become a full-fledged competitor to China, the US and the EU on the African continent. There are prerequisites for that and possible? These issues are discussed in the material of the American edition of Eurasianet.Russia pompously announced the strengthening of trade relations with Africa, held in Sochi summit with African leaders worth 4.5 billion rubles. The authorities want to extract Africa’s natural resources, increase arms exports, participate in infrastructural and educational projects.Despite doubling trade with Africa over the past 5 years, Russia still lags far behind on this indicator from the EU, China and the United States. In addition, the efforts of Russia to expand its presence in Africa has faced a number of serious barriers.The Kremlin does not skimpVery impressive financial side of the issue. First, the summit “Russia — Africa”, held in late October in Sochi, was one of the most expensive forums in the last 10 years. According to estimates RBC, it cost 4.5 billion rubles, which is more than twice as expensive as the St. Petersburg international economic forum 2019. Of the 54 invited African leaders arrived 43.Second, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that in previous years Russia has written off Africa’s debt by 20 billion. Most of them were formed in the Soviet era and were related to the purchase of Russian military technology, analysis of Bi-bi-si.The news of the cancellation of Africa’s debts has caused criticism in Russia. Press Secretary of the President Dmitry Peskov said in reply to TASS, that these debts were “ephemeral, transient”, and their presence prevented the cooperation of Russian companies with African countries, not allowed to engage in new projects.The success ofTrade between Russia and Africa from 2013 to 2018, increased from 9.9 to 20.2 billion dollars, follows from the data of the Federal customs service of the Russian Federation. The share of Africa in Russia’s foreign trade turnover during this time has increased from 1.2% to 3%.Meanwhile, trade between Russia and Africa is almost 17 times less of the turnover of Africa with the European Union (337 billion in 2018), 10 times lower turnover of Africa with China (204 billion) and three times less than turnover with the United States (61 billion), follows from the data of “Kommersant” and the German TV channel Deutsche Welle. On a large amount of trade with Africa, India and the United Arab Emirates.The main trade partners of Russia in 2018, was Arabic-speaking countries of North Africa — Egypt (7.7 billion dollars), Algeria ($4.6 billion), Morocco ($1.5 billion) and Tunisia (821 million dollars). Among the rest stood out only South Africa ($1.1 billion).Russia mainly exports to Africa weapons and food, and in return receives the minerals and food products. Egypt 2013-2018 bought weapons for $ 2.2 billion, Algeria — $ 4.5 billion, follows from the data of SIPRI. While the annual volume of purchases of weapons to Egypt from Russia increased from virtually zero in 2013 to us $ 813 million in 2018, in the case of Algeria — almost 5 times to $ 1.2 billion.Russia is also engaged in Africa mining. In particular, LUKOIL is now beginning to engage in oil and gas extraction in the Congo, and expressed the intention to participate in similar projects in other countries of the continent.If you believe the media in Sudan in 2018, the company, which is linked to Russian businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin, is engaged in gold mining. In 2018, the company RUSAL started production of bauxite (aluminium ore) in Guinea. Also Russian companies working in the platinum field in Zimbabwe.The cost of production of raw materials in Africa is 2-3 times lower than in Russia, said in an interview to “Fontanka”, the head of the Center for the study of Russian-African relations and foreign policy of African countries, Institute for African studies, former Ambassador of the USSR and Russia in the African States of Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso Eugene Korendyasov.According to him, 60% of RUSAL”have bauxite in Guinea. In Africa are Gazprom and Severstal, which together with LUKOIL and Rosneft invested a total of 5.8 billion dollars, of which 60-70% are projects for oil and uranium, he said.The main interest of Russia in Africa is focused around the export of weapons, import of mineral resources and political influence, says a researcher from the Swedish defense research Agency, a former analyst of the Ministry of defence of Sweden Jakob Hedenskog.Judging by the mood of the Russian authorities, further cooperation with Africa can be as available and in other various fields. According to Vladimir Putin, in addition to trade of the Russian weapons he sees promise in the field of high-tech and medicine.In Guinea, for example, works of the Russian scientific research Institute of epidemiology and prophylaxis of infectious diseases, he said. One of the Russian companies, Melitta supplies in South Africa ultraviolet units for disinfection of air and surfaces. In addition, the President wants to develop educational projects: learning in Russia 17 thousand African students, he said.Additional opportunities for the Russian Federation creates a fall of US interest in Africa. For all the presidency, Donald trump did not visit any African country not only himself, but even one of the American Ministers, writes the Washington post. Not much help to the development of relations and statements trump, said the news Agency “associated press”.Russia and China are the main suppliers of weapons to Africa, and this can create difficulties for the United States, said in an interview with “Voice of America” Director of public Affairs of the US Africa command Chris Carnes.“If we do not continue to develop partnership with the African continent [in matters of supply of weapons and if China and Russia will continue on growth trajectory in the future, they can exert influence and deny us access to key regions,” said Carnes, did not elaborate on what areas it is.“The US do not pay attention [to Africa], and Russia in a hurry to fill the vacuum,” — said the newspaper “Washington post” Paul Stronsky, senior researcher of the Carnegie endowment for international peace.Callsmeanwhile, experts also point out that elected Russia’s course in Africa can lead to negative consequences for her.Eugene Chausovsky, senior analyst at Stratfor company, engaged in intelligence analysis, told “Voice of America”, that Russia chose in Africa “Syrian model” — support regimes threatened by the opposition inside the country, and which at least partially isolated in the international arena. Examples are the Central African Republic, Mozambique and Sudan.A similar position was announced in a research article, edition of Foreign Policy, specializing in foreign Affairs. As noted in the article, when you enter the country often does not understand or ignores the political nuances, and not trying to improve relations with the local elites and society.“The Russian put all of the current leader of the country”, — said the publication of Jude Devermont from the Center for strategic and international studies.This policy has led to a series of failures. In particular, Russia, acting in accordance with this model, agreed with the ruling while South Africa Jacob Zuma on the construction of nuclear power plants. As argued by local opposition politicians and investigative journalists, Zuma and his allies promised in exchange for huge kickbacks. However, after the fall of the administration under Zuma corruption scandal, the new President Cyril of Ramaphosa canceled the contract with Russia. Moreover, although South Africa continues to consider options for the construction of nuclear power plants, Russia to the process is no longer connected.In the Sudan, the Russian Federation made a bid for Omar al-Bashir, but it was soon overthrown. Although the relationship with Sudan was restored, this example also confirms the Kremlin cons of the chosen model, writes Foreign Policy. A similar failure occurred in Madagascar, where people who supported the Kremlin has failed to come to power, which is reflected in the attitude towards Russia in this country. Also “unlucky” in Libya.Increasing the risks in other countries. In Mozambique, increasing armed opposition, which reportedly involved and mercenaries from Russia, can result in growth instability and jeopardize Russian investments.Even if leaders, supported by Russia, for some time be able to stay in power, not the fact that the rate on them will allow Russia to gain a foothold in Africa in the long term, and after their inevitable departure from the scene, the situation for Russia could change, said in his article Gender Stronski of the Carnegie endowment for international peace.Questions surround the economic aspects of cooperation. In particular, it was stated that at the summit in Sochi signed agreements for 12 billion dollars. In reality, however, most of these documents are not contracts, and memoranda of intent that are not binding the parties.Also at the summit in Sochi, along with a message about writing off $ 20 billion of “bad debt” to Africa, it was announced reaching agreements on allocation of Russia of $ 30 billion in new loans to African States. In other words, the increase in trade is largely at Russia’s expense (purchases from Russia is often financed by Russian loans). You pay off these investments, an open question.

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