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Russia-Africa summit to discuss grain corridor for Africa

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Picture: TASS via Peoples Dispatch – At least 49 African countries will take part in the Russia-Africa summit that will begin in St Petersburg on July 27. The food sovereignty of African countries is likely to be high on the agenda and the summit will try to finalise the establishment of a new grain deal fitting their needs

By Peoples Dispatch

The two-day Russia-Africa summit is set to start in the Russian city of St Petersburg on Thursday, July 27. At least 49 countries have confirmed their participation, along with the heads of major regional organisations such as the African Union (AU), TASS reported.

Russia said that at least 17 African heads of state will take part in the summit which will be inaugurated by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

There will be a parallel Russia-Africa Economic and Humanitarian Forum meeting that will be attended by business heads, civil society members, academics, and others.

The summit is organised with the motto “for peace, security and development” and is expected to pitch for a new world order with “multipolarity and equality of all independent states,” Putin aide Yuri Ushakov told the press on Tuesday.

In a welcome message to summit participants on Wednesday, Putin said that Russia supports Africa which is “asserting itself more and more confidently as one of the poles of the emerging multipolar world” and the aspiration of African countries “to secure socio-economic stability and advancement” for themselves.

“We remain committed to assisting our African partners in every possible way to help them strengthen their national and cultural sovereignty, to play a more active role in resolving regional and global challenges,” he added.

Russia claimed that the high participation of African countries in the summit despite Western pressure on individual countries shows their growing assertiveness, defiance, and desire to maintain their independence.

The first Russia-Africa summit was organised in Sochi in October 2019.

Africa’s food sovereignty is the central agenda

Most of the African countries, which are heavily dependent on the import of fertilisers and food grains from Russia, are facing a severe food crisis due to rising prices. While disruptions in global supply chains due to Covid-19 is considered a significant factor, the rising prices are also the result of the war in Ukraine and the sanctions imposed by the West on Russia.

The summit is set to discuss ways to ensure the food sovereignty of African countries and will try to finalise the establishment of a new grain deal fitting their needs, Sputnik reported.

The summit will also discuss establishing a corridor between Russia and Africa for the supply of Russian grain and fertilisers.

Russia is facing criticism from the West after it announced the termination of the grain deal signed with Ukraine in July last year. The deal, mediated by the UN and Turkey, allowed Ukrainian grain to leave through the Black Sea in an effort to bring global food prices under control and protect the interests of the African countries.

Russia withdrew from the deal earlier this month claiming that none of its conditions were met by the West. Russia also questioned the motive behind the deal, claiming that only 3 percent of all grain exported under it went to poorer countries in Africa and elsewhere while the rest went to rich and middle income countries in Europe and Asia.

The summit will also focus on ways to address issues like poverty, modernisation of the workforce, and climate change. Russia has proposed a 3-year action plan on these and other priority areas. The summit will also finalise agreements on counter-terrorism, non-deployment of weapons in space, and international security.

In the run-up to the summit, Putin met with Ethiopian and Egyptian leaders, as well as the newly appointed head of the BRICS New Development Bank, Dilma Rousseff, in St Petersburg on Wednesday.

This article was first published by Peoples Dispatch