More than 50 African leaders have been invited to take part in the first Russia-Africa Summit in Sochi.
Co-chaired by Vladimir Putin, President of Russia, and Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, President of Egypt (who also chairs the African Union) the event aims to spotlight “the expansion of the political, economic, technical and cultural cooperation” between Africa and Russia.
The Russian government boasts that the October 24 summit “is the first event of this level in the history of Russian-African relations, with the heads of all states of the African continent invited, as well as leaders of major subregional associations and organisations.”
On October 23, Sochi will also host an economic forum attended by major African and Russian leaders, and representatives of major businesses. Trade, economic and investment agreements are “expected to be signed”.
With roughly 3,000 African businesspersons expected to attend this event, the Russian government has not revealed which businesses will be present.
China, Russia and Japan: Cold War II
Unlike Japan’s strategic policy for African investment, which seeks “Africa’s development’ by strengthening relations between Africa and Japan, Russia’s investment policy bluntly states its plans for African exploitation.
“Economies of most African countries develop progressively, and Africa will play an increasing role in the system of Russia’s foreign economic relations in the long term, as the region becomes more and more attractive for trade and investment,” Anton Kobyakov, Adviser to the President of the Russian Federation, reported.
On the contrary, Japan’s investment policies in Africa are simply euphemisms for its exploitative designs on the continent. The end of the Cold War began a new chapter in Africa’s economy as Russia and other developed countries scaled back their economic support of African governments. The Cold War was fought in proxy on African and South American land, as both the West, China and the USA struggled for global power through neocolonialism.
During the 1990s, many African nations were rife with poverty and political instability, a far cry from the economic and developmental growth that the continent is currently experiencing. As developed nations pulled back their investment and support in Africa after the end of the Cold War in 1991, Japan would launch Tokyo’s International Conference on Africa’s Development (TICAD) in 1993. Under TICAD, Japan granted Official Development Assistance (ODA) to Africa for the continent’s economic development and public welfare.
“It’s clear that TICAD has become more and more business-oriented over the past 10 years. Now the No.1 agenda is how to bring Japanese private-sector businesses to Africa,” said Shinichi Takeuchi, professor and head of the African Studies Center at the Tokyo University of Foreign Studies.
Following Japan’s euphemistic example, Putin said: “I am glad to note the friendly constructive nature of relations between our countries. I am confident that the Russia–Africa Summit as well as the Economic Forum to be held in Sochi in October will contribute to the sound development of these relations and allow us to outline new forms of fruitful cooperation.”
In China, at the 2018 FOCAC (Forum on China-Africa Cooperation) summit, China and Africa agreed to build an “even stronger community” with a “shared future”.
“We agree to strengthen collective dialogue, enhance traditional friendship, deepen practical cooperation, and work together toward an even stronger China-Africa community with a shared future,” the FOCAC 2018 declaration read.
By the next year, Uganda’s auditor-general released a report declaring that public debt between 2017 and 2018 had increased from $9.1 billion to $11.1 billion. With a loan of $3 billion, and conditions which made loans difficult to repay, Uganda’s sovereign assets were threatened with repossession by China.
“China taking over assets? … in Uganda, I have told you, as long as some of us are still in charge, unless there is a catastrophe, and which I don’t see at all, that will make this economy going behind. So, … I’m not worried about China taking assets. They can do it elsewhere, I don’t know. But here, I don’t think it will come,” the country’s finance minister, Matia Kasaija said.
In December 2017, China took over Sri Lanka’s Hambantota Port under a 99-year lease, after Sri Lanka struggled to make repayments. Many other nations, such as Papa New Guinea, Laos, the Maldives, Pakistan, Malaysia and Kenya are, today, struggling to repay China’s multibillion-dollar loans.