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Programme for Russia-Africa summit and why it matters

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Picture: Olga Maltseva/AFP/July 25, 2023 – Flags promoting the upcoming second Russia-Africa summit outside St Isaac’s Cathedral in Saint Petersburg. Russian President Vladimir Putin will discuss Ukraine with leaders of African countries, who will gather for a Russia-Africa summit hosted in Saint Petersburg later this week, the Kremlin said on July 25, 2023.

By Muhammad Nooh Osman

The Second Russia-Africa Summit is scheduled to take place on July 27-28 in St Petersburg, Russia, under the motto “For Peace, Security and Development”. The summit aims to strengthen the strategic partnership between Russia and Africa, promote political dialogue, expand economic co-operation, and encourage cultural and humanitarian exchanges.

The Second Russia-Africa Summit is a major diplomatic event that will bring together the leaders of Russia and more than 50 African countries, as well as representatives of regional and international organisations, business communities, civil society and media.

The two-day event, to be held on July 27-28, aims to build a strategic partnership between Moscow and African nations, promoting political dialogue, strengthening mutually beneficial economic co-operation, and fostering cultural and humanitarian exchanges.

The summit will also serve as an opportunity to review the progress and achievements of the first Russia-Africa Summit, which was held in the Russian resort city of Sochi in 2019, and to set new objectives and priorities for the further development of Russia-Africa engagement.

Agenda of the Summit

Among the central events that will take place on the sidelines of the summit is the Russia-Africa Economic and Humanitarian Forum. According to its programme, leaders are expected to discuss a variety of issues that are divided into four blocks.

The first, titled Technology and Security for Sovereign Development That Benefits People, aims to explore the prospects for co-operation between Russia and Africa in the areas of mining, energy, exports, agriculture, logistics, and financial security, among other economic issues.

In the second, Integrated Security and Sovereign Development, leaders will discuss issues related to international security and geopolitical stability, regional security, and co-operation in the fight against corruption and transnational cartels. This section will also address food security in Africa, information security, and challenges to electoral sovereignty.

On the technological front, the forum’s third section on Co-operation in Science and Technology will examine perspectives for strengthening the partnership in the areas of infrastructure, innovation, as well as the introduction of Russian cutting-edge technology, including digital, industrial, nuclear and space technologies, to promote sustainable development in Africa.

In this regard, the Russian State Space Corporation (Roscosmos) recently announced its intention to sign co-operation agreements with African countries at the summit.

“One of the key strategic tasks that every state faces in the contemporary world is the use of technologies that will ensure energy security, guarantee the sustainable development of various economic sectors and increase the scientific and human capacity of the country,” Russia’s Foreign Ministry explained.

Leaders will also address humanitarian and social issues in the fourth block of the Forum, themed The Humanitarian and Social Sphere: Working Together for a New Quality of Life. It looks to strengthen humanitarian co-operation between Russia and African countries, including in higher education and educational technologies, cultural and sport spheres.

This block will also touch upon the Russophile movement in Africa.

“The human dimension of development has been declared a priority by Russia and the African Union and its Agenda 2063 program. In an increasingly multipolar world, co-operation in the human dimension takes on particular significance,” the ministry said.

On the sidelines of the summit in St Petersburg, there will also be a meeting of Russian and African university rectors, a youth programme, a roundtable of Russian and African Supreme Audit Institutions, as well as a media forum with the participation of Sputnik Africa and RT.

Both agencies will take part in the organisation of two sessions of the media forum, namely Sovereign Media and the Fight Against Disinformation: the Experience of Russia and African Countries and Multipolar Information World: the Role of African Arab countries in the New Realities of International Relations.

“It is crucial for the media to be truly sovereign and be able to convey their point of view to the audience. Strengthening bilateral and multilateral co-operation is now a key agenda item for representatives of the media industry around the world,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

Another issue that could be put on the agenda of the summit at the initiative of the African side is the expansion of BRICS – the bloc of the world’s major emerging economies, according to Russian Ambassador-at-Large and Head of the Russia-Africa Partnership Forum Oleg Ozerov. BRICS currently consists of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

Since 2022, a number of countries all over the world and Africa have expressed interest to join the group.

Ozerov also noted that after the July summit, a “declaration-action plan on priority areas of co-operation for the period from 2023 to 2026 is expected to be adopted”.

Against All Odds

In late June, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov announced that preparations for the second Russia-Africa Summit were nearing completion.

“More than half of the African countries have confirmed participation at the highest level, although they are simply pressed shamelessly, demanding every day that they either cancel their trip to the summit or lower their level of participation,” the Russian minister said at a briefing on June 30.

African officials have repeatedly complained about the pressure campaign by Western countries, especially the United States and its Nato allies, against countries that maintain relations with Russia.

In turn, Moscow has repeatedly stressed that the good and constructive relations that Moscow is developing with African countries are not directed against third parties.

Among those African leaders who officially confirmed their intentions to travel to St Petersburg for the summit are Sudan’s Transitional Sovereign Council Chairperson Abdel Fattah Al Burhan, Libya’s Presidential Council Chairperson Mohamed Menfi, and Somalian President Hassan Sheikh Mahmoud.

Najwa Wahiba, the Libyan presidential council’s spokesperson, told Sputnik that “the summit will provide an opportunity to hold important meetings and discuss numerous political and economic issues at the bilateral and regional levels”.

In addition, in mid-May, it was reported that fourteen heads of Supreme Audit Institutions (SAIs) from Africa have accepted an invitation to participate in the second Russia-Africa Summit and the Economic and Humanitarian Forum.

Sputnik, a part of the Rossiya Segodnya media group, is an official media partner for the event.

This article was first published on Sputnik