Russia to pitch deeper ties at second summit with African leaders

Wednesday July 26 2023
putin ties

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin before the 11th Brics Summit at the Itamaraty palace in Brasilia, Brazil on November 14, 2019. PHOTO | AFP


Russia is readying itself to make deeper friends with Africa as the West continues to shun Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine last year in February. And some of the African leaders are skipping the event, maintaining what has been Africa’s classic stance on the conflict: neutrality.

The Second Russia-Africa Summit has come four years after the first, largely due to Covid-19. But it has come amid a new geopolitical perspective including Western sanctions on Russia government departments, officials and entities with ties to the government owing to the war.

"Yet a preliminary programme released ahead of the meeting on July 27 shows the topics will be based on Moscow’s ties with African countries and businesses to do. Russian President Vladimir Putin is expected to address a plenary session at the Summit and will reportedly describe the state of and prospects for developing the full range of ties between Russia and African nations in the political, economic and humanitarian areas,” according to the Kremlin.

Read: Russia-Africa summit: What Vladmir Putin stands to gain

The participants, including African Presidents such as South African leader Cyril Ramaphosa and Felix Tshisekedi of the Democratic Republic of Congo, will join in a final declaration of the summit which will dictate the future of ties.

"Russian and African officials, businesspeople and public figures have been invited to attend the session. The Russian President has plans to meet with the heads of African regional organisations," the Kremlin added in a Telegram channel on Monday.


Vladimir Putin and the leaders of a number of African states will continue to discuss possible ways of settling the situation around Ukraine within the African Peace Initiative, which they launched in St Petersburg in June.

The President of Russia will hold bilateral conversations with all heads of African states taking part in the summit.

The Kremlin has not publicised the list of confirmed participants, but the number is expected to be lower for heads of state this time than in 2019, which reported 43. One is the pressure applied from the West on some of the African leaders may contributed to them staying away or sending representatives. Russia’s isolation also means a headache for travel plans especially in airspace clearances if overflying European countries backing the sanctions.

In 2019, Putin promised to double Russian trade with Africa in five years to $40 billion. This time, the Summit has adopted a humanitarian segment which will be held alongside one on business.

Read: Russia bid to reclaim African influence, tackle US dollar

Participants will discuss issues like ‘Partnership for Food Sovereignty’ to be addressed by Konstantin Babkin, President of the Rosspetsmash Association and President of the New Commonwealth Industrial Union. Others include Andrey Guryev, the President of the Russian Association of Fertilizer Producers (RAFP), Boris Listov, Chairman of the Management Board of the Russian Agricultural Bank, and Benedict Okey Oramah, President and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the African Export–Import Bank (Afreximbank), a programme brochure showed on Tuesday.

Russia argues Africa is one of the most vulnerable regions in the world in terms of food security, despite agriculture employing more than 60 percent of its labour force.

“The only way to solve this problem is to achieve food sovereignty. This is a realistic possibility due to the continent's immense agricultural potential,” the programme added. 

In a commentary on Monday, Putin had said he will use the Summit “shape a non-discriminatory agenda for cooperation.” Russia, he argued, has consistently supported Africa to rid itself of the yoke of colonialism and oppression.

“We understand the importance of uninterrupted food supplies for the socio-economic development and political stability of the African States. Notwithstanding the sanctions, Russia will continue itsenergetic efforts to provide supplies of grain, food products, fertilizers, and other goods to Africa,” he wrote.