MEMO: Russian-African multipolarity: Russian cooperation and investment with African countries



The holding of the second Russia-Africa Economic Summit and Forum, in St. Petersburg between July 27 and 28th, can generate positive impacts for African economic development as well as the expansion of Russian industry in the region.

The forum’s role is to develop solutions to sensitive issues such as food challenges, particularly given the historical importance of Russia and Africa as a food source.

The Eurasian power is a major food producer and is facing a challenge, which is to maintain commercial partnerships despite the blockades and sanctions to which it is subjected.

Forums like this bring perspectives of success, considering the results of the first edition, which we expose in the text with the exponential growth of Russian-African trade.

Updating these can be a leap in quality, evolving from trade between primary commodities and pointing to infrastructure and the development of new value chains, such as the expansion of current industrial capacities with high-tech products, in addition to financial services far from the privilege of the US dollar.

It is worth reinforcing this evidence.

Creating other economic circuits far from the western and Anglo-Saxon axis is an urgent need for the development of the Global South.


The historical-structural trajectory of decolonization and subsequent stage

A historical view of the roles played by the United States and its allies in the former colonial powers in Africa is in order.

The very creation of Africom (United States Permanent Combat Command for Africa) is proportional to the increase in the Salafist and Takhfirist presence in sub-Saharan territories.

Although it was an October 2007 decision, its trajectory can be seen as a continuation of the colonial era.

It is important to note that on May 25, 1963, the Organization for African Unity was created, a structure that lasted until 1999, being succeeded by the African Union.

Although they are both organizations of pan-Africanist traditions, the first is more linked to the period of decolonization and the Cold War, while the second is contemporary with the process of capitalist globalization and the moment when the United States believed it was in a unipolar era.

This second period definitely ended in the face of Washington’s arrogance.

With the use of the dollar as a world currency and a weapon of economic warfare, all countries with some claim to exercise productive sovereignty and the full exercise of fundamental decisions are faced with an inexorable situation.

Either a sovereign way is sought in the use of currencies other than the dollar or each national government and its respective societies will be hostages of the world financial architecture after Bretton Woods and after the end of the Soviet Union.

This theme is recurrent and we see a sort of post-Soviet “heritage” in aspects of Russian foreign policy.

This can be seen in a certain presence of the Kremlin in the Middle East, in the strategic rapprochement with important regional powers – such as Turkiye and Iran – and necessarily with African countries.

Despite having supported the creation of the Zionist apartheid state in occupied Palestine, the Soviet reorientation is closer to the Arab cause and also to the search for African unity.

In the processes of decolonization of the sister continent of Latin America, commissioners of Soviet origin and especially, volunteer operators from Cuba, played a very important role in the expulsion of European colonialists.

In this decade of the 21st century, the reality of competition and cooperation between States and areas of influence takes place in the face of disputes over forms of capitalist development.

The African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) has its headquarters in Cairo (Egypt) and branches in Abidjan (Côte d’Ivoire), Abuja (Nigeria), Harare (Zimbabwe), Kampala (Uganda) and Yaoundé (Cameroon).

The organic relations between the bank and the Forum are visible in the participation of this important and multilateral African financial institution in the Economic Forum.

The Russo-African Summit indicates, therefore, that we may be facing an increase in the presence of the Eurasian power on the continent.

Following the example of the process led by China, followed by Turkiye and Iran – and, for twelve years, with a strong presence of Brazil –, such initiatives form the set of non-Western economies disputing influence with the former European colonial powers and their hegemon, the USA.

The president of Afreximbank, Benedict Okey Oramah, stated that the Bank would act as an organizational partner of the Forum.

This statute includes promotion of the event in Africa, attracting the target audience, necessary assistance to the speakers of the business program and construction of the pavilion.

Oramah separately focused on the actively developing trade between African countries and Russia.

According to him, a few years ago, the volume traded was US$8.9 billion, compared to the current US$12 billion.

“Russia plays a key role in grain supply, sometimes up to 30-40%.

The same applies to fertilizer supplies: Russia is the main supplier,” said Oramah.

Russian-African relations are strategic; Blockades and sanctions that prevent the arrival of inputs from the agricultural value chain are like condemning entire countries to hunger and societal devastation.

Therefore, it is necessary to advance in multilateral economic exchanges, guaranteeing the presence of Russian products in Africa.


Russian presence can be expanded in the eight economic regions of the African Union

Complementarily to Afreximbank, the African Union organizes “Regional Economic Communities (RECs)”.

According to the bloc’s portal, the RECs are regional groupings of African states that have developed with their respective particularities, having different roles and structures.

In general, the purpose of the RECs is to facilitate regional economic integration among members of the regions and through the African Economic Community (AEC) – the broader structure established under the Abuja Treaty (1991).

The African Union recognizes eight Regional Economic Communities (RECs):

  • Arab Maghreb Union (UMA)
  • Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA)
  • Community of Sahel–Saharan States (CEN–SAD)
  • East African Community (EAC)
  • Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS)
  • Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS)
  • Intergovernmental Authority for Development (IGAD)
  • Southern African Development Community (SADC)

Russia’s cooperation with each of the eight regional communities noted above can increase the level of complexity and complementarity of their economies.

To do so, it is necessary to overcome measures imposed by the United States and the European Union (EU) such as sanctions, blockades and the prohibition of access to the Swift System for interbank exchanges.

It is evident that the Basel Accords are no longer useful for world trade and it is necessary to create a new global financial architecture, based on continental bodies, such as Afreximbank, and on a global scale, such as the New Development Bank (NDB) – the BRICS bank.

A concrete advance could be the creation of one or more lines of insurance and guarantees for maritime freight organized in cooperation between Russian financial institutions, African countries and with the endorsement of the NDB.

Logistical optimization, with single arrivals to multiple destinations, is one of the advantages that this new arrangement – based on CERs – could create.

What is most relevant, in addition to the concreteness of these commercial exchanges and economic development, is the strategic goal of establishing new circuits and routes that go further and further away from the possibility of US imperialism operating with its veto power.

Any progress in this regard is beneficial to the economy of the Global South and its non-Western partnerships.

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