By Frank Kamuntu
Russian president Vladmir Putin has welcomed thousands of African leaders to discuss politics and business ‘worth billions of dollars’ at the Russia-Africa Summit 2019.
Putin, who is set to meet Ugandan president Yoweri Kaguta Museveni at the same summit, first met with his Egyptian counterpart Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi before the two leaders opened the first ever Russia-Africa Summit Wednesday October 23, 2019.
The two-day event will see more than 3,000 delegates from across Russia and Africa discuss an array of topics from nuclear energy to mineral extraction.
All 54 African states sent a representative to the meeting, including 43 heads of state or government, according to Kremlin adviser Yuri Ushakov.
“We currently export to Africa $25 billion ($22.5 billion) worth of food — which is more than we export in arms, at $15 billion. In the next four to five years I think we should be able to double this trade, at least,” Putin said.
Areas Of Investment
Russia has dominated arms sales in Africa but this time round, Putin has promised further African cooperation without “political or other” interference. This comes as a reassurance to African states who have previously expressed concerns about dependence on China.
Russia is hoping to sign a potential military cooperation agreement with Ivory Coast. The West African country is expected to send a delegation of 70 people to Sochi, including President Alassane Ouattara.
In addition to “military and security cooperation” with Africa, Putin also pledged Russian commitment to combat the Ebola virus with aid, and training of ‘African cadres’ by Russian universities.