Picture: Kopano Tlape/GCIS/Taken October 23, 2019 – South African President Cyril Ramaphosa is welcomed by President Vladimir Putin of the Russian Federation on the occasion of an official dinner in honour of Heads of State and Government attending the Russia-Africa Summit in Sochi, Russia. The second Russia-Africa summit will take place on July 27-28.
Zimbabwe minister identifies priorities for Summit
The second Russia-Africa Economic and Humanitarian Forum will be hosted in St Petersburg on July 27-28. The first event was held October 22-24, 2019, in Sochi under the theme “For Peace, Security and Development”.
Digitalisation will be the top discussion priority for Zimbabwe at the Russia-Africa summit, Monica Mutsvangwa, Zimbabwe’s minister of information, publicity and broadcasting, told Sputnik Africa in an interview.
“From Zimbabwe’s point of view, priority issues to be discussed should be digital technologies,” the minister said. “And that is very, very interesting to us.”
Likewise, issues of medicine, energy, especially renewable energy, and infrastructure development are also of great importance, Mutsvangwa noted.
For Zimbabwe, it is also of interest to consider modern and high-tech extraction and processing of abundant mineral resources.
Raising the issue of agriculture during the summit is also significant for Harare, she pointed out.
“We have rich soils, fertile, and good weather, good climate throughout the year to produce horticulture, citrus, all these very required products in your country [Russia],” Mutsvangwa argued.
The official also highlighted the oil and gas exploration fields, noting that it was recently confirmed that Zimbabwe has oil.
“So certainly, all these, as well as other science and education for economic development, will be really priority issues to discuss,” Mutsvangwa concluded.
Although the minister of information could not confirm that Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa will attend the July summit, she noted that it is very important that Zimbabwe has a “good opportunity” to attend the summit at the highest level and benefit from it.
Mnangagwa visited Moscow in January 2019. At that time, he held talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin, and the parties signed a number of agreements.
In April, at the ceremony to present credentials to foreign ambassadors, Russian President Vladimir Putin noted that the friendship between Russia and Zimbabwe “has been tested by time”, and the deepening of trade and investment co-operation is in the mutual interest of both countries.
Kenyan President Ruto’s New Finance Act in limbo
Last month, Kenya’s President William Ruto officially signed the Finance Bill into law after it was approved by the National Assembly. However, the high court in Nairobi suspended its implementation after a senator challenged the constitutional legality if the bill.
Kenya’s court has rejected a request by the state to lift the suspension of a new finance law, which provides for new taxes or increases on a number of basic commodities.
In the ruling on Monday, Justice Mugure Thande decided not to allow the implementation of the Finance Bill after Busia Senator Okiya Omtatah filed a case challenging its legitimacy. According to local media reports, the judge agreed that the case raises major constitutional issues, noting that the act will overburden Kenyans.
In June, the National Assembly ratified the bill, which proposes new or increased taxes on a range of basic goods, including fuel, food and mobile money transfers.
The bill was supported by 184 MPs, mostly from the ruling Kenya Kwanza party, while 88 MPs, mostly from the opposition Azimio Party, opposed the amendments.
It particular, the Finance Bill provides for the increase of the VAT (Value Added Tax) on fuel from 8 percent to 16 percent. It also requires companies and workers to pay 1.5 percent of their gross salaries into a housing levy, which will go into a fund to finance the development of low-income housing. The president has strongly supported this provision.
Later, the president officially signed into law the Finance Bill, which is expected to generate more than $2.1 billion for the government as it suffers a substantial budgetary crisis.
Following the move, the opposition urged Kenyans to take to the streets against the tax hikes. The protests, dubbed “Saba Saba” (Seven Seven) as they were taking place on the seventh day of the seventh month, claimed lives of at least three people.
Second Russia-Africa Summit
The Second Summit Russia-Africa Economic and Humanitarian Forum will take place in St Petersburg from July 27-28. The First Russia-Africa Summit and Economic Forum was held in the Russian resort city of Sochi in October 2019.
Looking Back at First Russia-Africa Summit Highlights
The First Russia-Africa Summit and Economic Forum was held on October 23-24, 2019, in the Russian resort city of Sochi under the motto “For Peace, Security and Development”. During the historic event, the participants identified priority areas of economic co-operation where concrete results could be achieved in the coming years.
The summit was the largest and unprecedented event in Russian-African relations, aimed at creating a fundamentally new level of mutually beneficial partnership to address the challenges of the 21st century. As Russia and African nations are set to review the progress and achievements of the first Russia-Africa Summit at the second meeting, scheduled for this month in St Petersburg, Sputnik Africa outlines the most interesting facts about the Sochi gathering.
Large-Scale Event in Numbers
The Russia-Africa Summit and Economic Forum brought together over 6,000 participants and media representatives from Russia and 104 foreign states and territories. It was attended by more than 1,100 representatives of foreign business, about 1,400 of Russian business, more than 1,900 representatives from foreign official delegations and over 300 of Russian ones.
Government officials of 54 African countries attended the event, 45 of which were represented by heads of state and government. The forum was also attended by heads of executive bodies of eight regional organisations in Africa and 109 ministers.
The event was covered by about 800 media representatives – more than 500 Russian and over 250 foreign reporters from 43 countries. About 650 volunteers speaking English, French, Arabic, Portuguese and Spanish came from different Russian cities to help in the preparation and organisation process.
Ahead of the Russia-Africa Summit, about 9,100 rooms were booked in 30 hotels across the city, in particular, in Adler, Krasnaya Polyana and Central Sochi. During the event, Sochi International Airport provided about 700 take-offs and landings and a capacity of 2,500 people per hour.
Key Meetings and Discussions
The business programme of the Russia-Africa Forum was mainly based on numerous discussions about the potential and opportunities for developing co-operation and interaction between Russia and African nations.
On the first day of the event, on October 23, Russian President Vladimir Putin held nine bilateral meetings with the leaders of Egypt, South Africa, Nigeria, the Republic of Sudan, Ethiopia, Namibia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Uganda and the Central African Republic.
The next day, the discussions continued, but in a larger format. The Economic Forum opened with a plenary session under the theme: “Russia-Africa: Revealing the Potential of Co-operation”. The co-chairs of the Russia-Africa Summit, President Putin and his Egyptian counterpart Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, addressed the forum.
During the plenary session, the Egyptian leader emphasised the role Russia plays in strengthening peace, stability and economic progress in Africa. He noted that African countries consider the Economic Forum as an important platform for demonstrating opportunities to develop investment and trade relations between Russia and the Continent.
The Russian president, for his part, pointed to the remnants of the colonial mindset, elaborating that a number of states are trying to make Africa an “object of unilateral assistance” instead of building equal partnerships with the Continent. Uncontrolled aid can harm the region, instead it is necessary to develop production in the African countries themselves, Putin said, adding that Russia is ready to co-operate with “African friends” in this direction.
The discussions were divided into three topics: “Development of Economic Relations”, “Creation of Joint Projects” and “Co-operation in the Humanitarian and Social Spheres”. A total of 31 sessions were held, with most of them dedicated to the development of trade and economic relations, existing and potential joint projects in the oil and gas industry, agro-industrial sector, transport infrastructure, construction and nuclear energy. More than 250 speakers took part in the sessions.
Moreover, the Russia-Africa Information Agencies Forum took place on the sidelines of the summit. The forum focused on the role of media in strengthening and broadening Russian-African relations.
All the events within the summit’s business programme were conducted in four languages (English, French, Arabic, Portuguese), which are the official languages of the bodies and institutions of the African Union.
Agreements and Business Negotiations
A total of 92 agreements, contracts, and memorandums of understanding were signed during the first Russia-Africa Summit and Economic Forum. According to Anton Kobyakov, Advisor to the President of the Russian Federation, Executive Secretary of the Organising Committee, the total amount of signed documents reached about 1 trillion rubles ($ 11 billion).
The largest number of documents were signed in such fields as export and foreign economic activity, international co-operation, high technologies, transport and logistics, mining, as well as investment and banking.
“Mutually beneficial partnership is a fundamental basis for the development of our economies, and the Russia-Africa Forum will play a leading role in this process. The next time it will take place in three years. It is important that during all this time we and our African colleagues intend to continue intensive work to strengthen the dialogue through various meeting formats,” Kobyakov said.
During the event, the forum’s business area, organised by the Roscongress Foundation, a major organiser of nationwide and international conventions, with the support of the Russian Export Centre, hosted 569 meetings.
Moreover, the exhibition, held within the forum, featured various sectors of the Russian economy, including agriculture, heavy and light engineering, military and civilian equipment. A large exposition was prepared by the Russian Export Centre. In particular, Rosatom, the country’s energy corporation, presented renewable energy sources, while Transmashholding, the largest manufacturer of locomotives and rail equipment in Russia, exhibited modern developments in the field of passenger transport.
A closing declaration was adopted at the end of the summit, outlining the approval of goals and objectives for the future development of Russian-African co-operation across politics, security, economics, science and technology, culture and the humanitarian sphere.
The declaration provided for the creation of a new dialogue mechanism – the Russian-African Partnership Forum, with summits to be held every three years. The participants agreed to work together on strengthening security, nuclear non-proliferation, combating terrorism and biological threats, as well as reforming the UN Security Council.
The declaration emphasised the mutual commitment of Russia and African countries to bring their co-operation to a new level and jointly address modern challenges and threats.
These articles were first published on Sputnik