The Russian-African partnership is the core for a new multipolar world order that would be more fair and just for all. Africa expects a lot from Russia. Historical cooperation between the two and the huge capabilities that Russia possesses confirm its ability to meet these expectations and move forward together to the future, writes Valdai Club expert Nourhan ElSheikh.
Africa is a promising continent with broad prospects for economic growth. It is very rich in both natural and human resources. Africa has 30% of the world’s total minerals, 10% of oil reserves, 8% of gas reserves, and nearly 60% of the world’s untapped agricultural area. By 2040, Africa will have the largest labour force, as a quarter of the world’s population will live there; with young people accounting for more than 60%.
Although Africa possesses all the requirements needed for development and economic breakthroughs, it still suffers from hunger, poverty, poor living standards, and political instability. Over long decades of colonialism, Western countries exploited Africa and drained its wealth without investing in any development. Africa needs fair and balanced partnerships in order to help it face its problems and move toward the future.
African countries deeply trust Russia as a reliable partner. This reliance is rooted in the Soviet era, when Moscow was the only supporter of the African national liberation movements. Russia provided the newly independent African countries with economic, military and technical assistance. At a time when Washington considered Nelson Mandela a “terrorist”, Moscow supported him as a fighter against apartheid. The Soviet Union played a prominent role in educating and training African leaders in various fields. Some of them even became presidents, such as Jacob Zuma, Jose dos Santos, and Armando Guebuza.
Russia is also distinguished by its cooperative rather than competitive approach to the continent. Unlike Western countries, which view Africa as an arena for international competition, Moscow seeks development partnerships based on a win-win principle.
Chief among these is the food crisis, which is considered the most pressing in Africa. More than a third of people in the world who suffer from chronic hunger and undernourishment are in Africa. Cooperation with Russia is crucial in overcoming this existential crisis. In the short term, this means providing African countries with Russian grain and fertilizers. In the long term, it entails helping Africans in developing their agricultural sector and providing them with the required technology. A number of African countries have fertile soil and sufficient water resources. But they are in dire need of investment in technology, not only to satisfy their nutritional needs but to become regional centres for Russian grain production.
Providing investment and technology for the energy sector is also an African priority. African countries need to exploit their natural resources in the field of energy. This includes oil, gas, new and renewable energy, and hydroelectric power, as many countries in the continent, especially Sub-Saharan ones, suffer from a severe deficit in electricity. Likewise, cooperation is needed in mining and the extraction of Africa’s huge reserves of minerals. Linked to this is the development of industries that depend on the natural resources that Africa possesses. The same priority can be given to the development of both the education and healthcare sectors, as well as transport infrastructure, especially railways. Ignorance and disease are fundamental challenges to any development efforts in Africa.
In parallel with those development areas, it is necessary to work on ensuring peace and stability. Africa suffers greatly from political instability, as well as from internal and regional armed conflicts. There is no sustainable development without stability and peace. Russia has played an important role in restoring stability and combating terrorism in a number of African countries, including Mali and the Central African Republic. Russia has actively participated in peacekeeping forces in Africa. It is important to enhance Russia’s role as a guarantor of peace and stability in Africa. African countries rely on Russia as an honest partner that sincerely supports peace and stability.
The Russian-African partnership is the core for a new multipolar world order that would be more fair and just for all. Africa expects a lot from Russia. Historical cooperation between the two and the huge capabilities that Russia possesses confirm its ability to meet these expectations and move forward together to the future.