Special Presidential Representative for the Middle East and Africa and Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov’s remarks at a briefing for the heads of foreign diplomatic missions accredited in Moscow dedicated to the Economic Forum and the Russia-Africa Summit in Sochi, Moscow, November 11, 2019
On October 23-24, the first Russia-Africa Summit in the history of Russian-African relations took place in Sochi. Official representatives of all 54 UN-recognised countries on the African continent were invited to attend. The event involved 45 countries represented by heads of state and government, as well as seven regional organisations, including the African Union and the African Export-Import Bank, represented by the heads of their executive bodies.
The Sochi Summit was co-chaired by President of Russia Vladimir Putin and President of Egypt and head of the African Union Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. At the close of the Summit, themed “For Peace, Security and Development,” the participants adopted a declaration containing the agreed goals and objectives for the further development of Russian-African cooperation in all its dimensions: politics, security, the economy, science and technology, and the cultural and humanitarian spheres. The declaration also enshrines a new dialogue mechanism, the Russia-Africa Partnership Forum, with the Russia-Africa Summit to be convened once every three years defined as its supreme body. Between the summits, Russia will host annual political consultations between the ministers of foreign affairs of the Russian Federation and the African states that are the current, previous and future chairs of the African Union. The declaration also notes the mutual commitment of Russia and African countries to elevate this cooperation to a new level that meets the challenges of the 21st century.
On the sidelines of the Summit, President Vladimir Putin held bilateral meetings with leaders of 16 African states, including Algeria, Angola, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Guinea, Kenya, Mauritius, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, Sudan, and Uganda, and to discuss specific aspects of bilateral relations between Russia and these countries.
Also during the Summit, a breakfast was served on behalf of the President of Russia for the leaders of regional organisations in Africa, where they discussed Russia’s contacts with African integration associations, including within the framework of the Eurasian Economic Union. At the close of the Summit, its co-chairs – the presidents of Russia and Egypt – oversaw the signing of memorandums between the Russian Government and the African Union on the foundation for relations and cooperation and between the Eurasian Economic Commission and the African Union on economic cooperation.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov attended a working breakfast with his colleagues, the foreign ministers of African countries, devoted to the objectives of cooperation in all spheres.
The Russia-Africa Economic Forum was also held in Sochi on October 23-24; the venue of the forum included several expo spaces. Its business programme comprised discussions on the potential for developing cooperation and interaction on the African continent.
It should be noted that although mutual trade between Russia and Africa has doubled over the past five years, reaching about $20 billion, it still does not reflect the real potential of trade, economic and investment cooperation. Therefore, the economic forum opened with a plenary meeting, Russia and Africa: Uncovering the Potential for Cooperation, and the co-chairs of the Russia-Africa Summit, the presidents of Russia and Egypt, spoke at the session.
Among over 6,000 economic forum participants, more than 1,000 represented the African business community, and about 1,500 were Russian business executives. Official African delegations numbered some 2,000 people and 109 of them were government ministers. The forum was attended by more than 300 representatives of federal executive bodies of Russia, including two presidential envoys to Russia’s federal districts, 11 ministers and seven heads of Russian federal services and agencies.
Overall, Sochi hosted more than 35 official events and more than 1,500 meetings, with a whole package of bilateral documents signed on the sidelines, including more than 50 contracts worth 800 billion roubles (about US $12.5 billion).
The Russia-Africa Summit and Economic Forum were widely covered by numerous representatives of Russian and foreign media from 43 countries.
It was the first time such large-scale top-level events were held in Russia, and they have no analogues in the history of Russian-African relations.
There was a longstanding need to organise a major Russia-Africa event. The idea was advanced by Russian President Vladimir Putin during the BRICS Summit in Johannesburg in July 2018. As part of preparations for the event, Moscow was the venue of the Social Forum in the same format in October 2018, the Economic Conference in June 2019 as part of the meeting of shareholders of the African Export-Import Bank, and the Parliamentary Conference in July on the sidelines of the Development of Parliamentarism International Forum.
During the summit and economic forum in Sochi, Russia and African countries reaffirmed their great interest in the further development of interaction, deepening and intensification of Russian-African cooperation both on bilateral and multilateral levels.
The historic significance of the Russia-Africa format events is obvious. Modern Russia, with its vast experience of successful cooperation with African countries during the Soviet era, is now ready to offer the African continent a mutually beneficial equal partnership and jointly uncover the potential accumulated over decades.
The first Russia-Africa Summit was highly appreciated by both the Russian leadership and the leaders of African states. We believe that this unprecedented event has become a turning point for the entire range of Russian-African ties to ascend to a qualitatively new level.