Vice President Kwesi Amissah-Arthur, has advocated a strategic commitment from the Russian government to support the development of Africa’s resources.
This he said must be done in a participatory manner, different from the old narrative of exploiting Africa’s resources, export them and the continent buys them as manufactured goods.
Speaking at a round-table discussion on Russia-Africa Relations: Advancing New Frontiers; at the ongoing 20th St. Petersburg International Economic Forum in Russia, Vice President Amissah-Arthur said it is important Africa and Russia create an avenue for investments in critical sectors such as oil and gas and energy in general, where Russia has enormous expertise and technology that can benefit the continent.
The 20th St. Petersburg International Economic Forum is taking place at the time Russia is under some sanctions from the EU, its major trading partner, and the need to find alternative trade and investments partners.
The Russia-Africa roundtable discussion was therefore necessary since Russia has had years of political and trade relations with Africa, back in the 1960s to the 1980s.
However, Russia’s political, economic, trade and investment influence in Africa collapsed when communism also collapsed.
As a member of the BRICS nations, made up of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, China and India have leapfrogged Russia in terms of investments in Africa.
Vice President Amissah-Arthur entreated Russia to establish an economic forum that focuses on her plan for Africa.
This is because Africa no longer sees itself just as a producer and exporter of raw materials and a market for manufactured goods but a continent seeking support, co-operation and investment in order to develop its economies.
Vice President Amissah-Arthur said through the regional economic blocks, Africa is positioning itself through economic integration in order to attract the much needed investments.
This is because the small to medium scale enterprises dominate African economies and, therefore, cannot compete with the global conglomerates.
Other African leaders who participated in the roundtable discussions included the President of Guinea, Alpha Conde and the Second Vice President of Burundi, Joseph Butore.
The leaders unanimously agreed that Russia must do more in terms of investing in Africa.
This is because there are abundant investment opportunities in the oil and gas, healthcare, transportation, technology, agro-business, manufacturing and infrastructure.
They said in the area of infrastructure alone, the African Development Bank estimates that Africa will need about 50 billion dollars to address its infrastructure shortfall.
Therefore, Russia must seize the opportunities and turn to Africa for mutually beneficial investments.
Led by the Deputy Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Mikhail Bogdanov, and Energy, Yury Senturin, Russia accepted that it has to scale up her investments in Africa.
They announced a number of trade and investment policies the government of President Vladimir Putin has put in place with Africa in mind.
They mentioned the revision of the 2030 Energy Strategy to 2035 in line with the global agenda of energy for everyone.
They said the policy seeks to create forms of energy accessible to all and a stable energy market. Mr. Bogdanov said Russia values its relations with Africa.
It is for this reason that it has always used her permanent membership of the UN Security Council to champion the course of Africa.
More than 500 delegates and participants including the UN Secretary General, Ban ki moon, are attending the 20th St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, which ends on Saturday.
Seth Eyiah, Russiah.