Africa: Kagame Calls for Mutually Beneficial Russia-Africa Ties

President Paul Kagame shakes hands with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the just-concluded Russia-Africa Summit in Sochi.
25 October 2019

The cooperation between Africa and Russia should focus on deriving practical results with clear mutual benefit and lead to building an equitable world order, President Paul Kagame has said.

Kagame was speaking while in Sochi, Russia at the just concluded Russia-Africa Summit, the first gathering of its kind.

The summit brought together African Heads of State and Government, Russian government officials as well as business leaders from the two parties.

Addressing the summit, President Kagame said that the cooperation and partnership between the two parties should be keen on achieving mutual benefits and lead to building an equitable international order.

"Our focus should be on deriving practical results from our cooperation efforts, with clear mutual benefit. Doing so would indeed represent an important contribution to building an equitable international order and a brighter future for all our peoples," he said.

Kagame said that the moment is favorable for cooperation and engagement as Africa is at a turning point in multiple ways including in regards to both trade and technology.

For instance, the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) will create a market and opportunities for Africans and partners from across the world with Russia among them.

With countries on the African continent having ambitious development plans which among other things require adopting and embracing technology and new sources of energy, Russia is an ideal partner as they have expertise on the subjects.

"The African Continental Free Trade Area is soon to be the world's largest, creating new opportunities for African companies and for our investors and partners from around the world, Russia among them,"

"We, therefore, welcome greater cooperation in fields such as information technology, scientific research, and new sources of energy where Russia enjoys a reputation for excellence," the President said.

Delegates at the just-concluded Russia-Africa Summit in Sochi yesterday. / Village Urugwiro

Kagame called for increased interaction between respective business communities and institutions of the two parties to grow trade which has potential

"Trade between Russia and Africa has the potential for significant growth in the years ahead. To speed up this trend, we expect to see more frequent contact between our respective business communities and other institutions going forward," he said.

Kagame encouraged leaders to maintain a conducive and predictable overall governance environment, with equal rights and opportunities for all players that would further foster the partnership and ties.

At the summit, Rwanda's delegation included Minister of Trade and Industry Soraya Hakuziyaremye, Chief Executive Officer of Rwanda Mines, Petroleum and Gas Board Francis Gatare and The Minister of Infrastructure Claver Gatete who showcased opportunities in Rwanda.

Rwanda-Russia relations

Presidents Kagame and Putin met last year at the Kremlin in Moscow following a visit by the Russian Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov to Kigali.

During Lavrov's visit, the two countries had committed to strengthening relations in defense, agriculture, and education among other areas.

Rwanda has had diplomatic relations with Russia since 1963 with cooperation revolving around political, military, education, human resource development and training, cultural ties as well as nuclear energy.

Outcomes of the summit

The just-concluded meeting agreed on increased cooperation on multiple fronts with mutually beneficial outcome.

Among the ways forward was the establishment of a Russia-Africa Partnership Forum with a view to coordinating the development of relations, and designate the Russia-Africa Summit as its supreme body to be convened once every three years.

The summit also agreed that going forward, they will hold annual political consultations between Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation and the African states.

According to a declaration signed by countries present, African countries will provide necessary assistance to major Russian companies working in African markets and entrepreneurs from the African states who plan to operate in the Russian Federation through reciprocally improving investment and business climate, as well as through providing possible special preferences.

This is expected to increase their chances for market entry into the continent.

Other avenues of cooperation agreed upon include security cooperation to address addressing challenges such as terrorism, extremism, transnational crimes, and trafficking in narcotic drugs.

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