The Eurasian Economic Union and Africa: Trends and Opportunities to Develop Integrated Processes and Collaborate


Economic integration boosts the development of the continent

“Establishment of regional economic associations is an existing global trend of modern development of the humanity. At the moment Africa has eight regional economic associations that pursue the same objectives: to create favourable conditions for people and for business. The point of these economic associations is by jointly effacing boundaries for goods, workforce, capital and services to create more favourable conditions for implementing their national sovereignty and realizing their economic and social development potential,” Tigran Sargsyan, Chairman of the Board, Eurasian Economic Commission.

“There are 55 countries in Africa, and our leaders have come to a conclusion that it is important to integrate the continent and make a transition from fragmented economies to a major economic block. This is the largest block of this sort due to the free trade zone,” H.E. Amani Abou-Zeid, Commissioner for Infrastructure and Energy, African Union Commission.

“If you can enter the global market, you have no barriers for development. But as we do not have such options, we start with the integration scheme, interacting with neighbouring countries,” Caleb Fundanga, President, Institute for Finance and Economics of the Republic of Zambia.

Russian companies’ interest in African market facilitates cooperation between EAEU and Africa

“The African continent is of special interest for Russia. Today almost all our major companies work there,” Sergey Katyrin, President, Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Russian Federation.

“It is the development of business processes that forms the economy, and our companies that are now actively interested in the African continent, the EAEU countries, can support this trend of cooperation between the largest associations: EAEU on one side, and 55 countries of the African Union on the other,” Nataliya Zaiser, Chair of the Board, Africa Business Initiative Union.



The existing international economic system does not take into account interests of many territories

“Many states believe that the existing economic system and international division of labour are not fair. Their national interests are not taken into account, and the principles identified by the World Trade Organization and in cooperation agreements between regional associations and countries do not fully correspond to their ideas of fairness,” Tigran Sargsyan, Chairman of the Board, Eurasian Economic Commission.

“Everybody sees Africa as a mainland, as a continent. But what about the overseas territories? What about all these small islands? They also have huge maritime territories, and nobody knows how to develop them separately. <…> Can Russia help us draft a roadmap, an action plan to manage our ‘blue economy’?” H.E. Usha Chandnee Dwarka-Canabady, Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration and International Trade of the Republic of Mauritius.

Business greatly depends on politics

“It is very difficult to build a business without political agreements. In any country, no matter how democratic, business always has to look to the authorities, their opinion on how much they can cooperate with specific countries and their economies, and how this cooperation is encouraged by their own leaders,” Sergey Katyrin, President, Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Russian Federation.

“We had the idea to introduce a common currency on the continent, but we faced some challenges and failed to reach an agreement. How can we have a common currency if countries have different policies, including in finance?” Caleb Fundanga, President, Institute for Finance and Economics of the Republic of Zambia.

Russian banks are hardly present in Africa

“A great hindrance for our business in African countries is the fact that there are no settlements in our national currency, no correspondent accounts in roubles, which results in poor presence of Russian banks in African countries,” Nataliya Zaiser, Chair of the Board, Africa Business Initiative Union.


Market expansion and development of integration

“The bigger the market, the more consumers there are and the better is the private sector, the more jobs there are and the better is the quality of life. <…> We advocate for the market economy, and for us private sector is a sector that we should rely on in order to develop the market. In this context partnerships with other regions and private sectors of other regions is of great importance,” Liberat Mfumukeko, Secretary General, East African Community (EAC).

“Most African countries have a very low income level. If we want to level up to medium or even high income, we need to develop the market to make it much broader,” Caleb Fundanga, President, Institute for Finance and Economics of the Republic of Zambia.

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To participants in the Russia–Africa Economic Forum

Ladies and gentlemen,

It gives me great pleasure to welcome you at the opening of the Russia–Africa Economic Forum.

The rich history of relations between Africa and Russia has never seen an event of a similar scale. Members of government agencies and business community, and experts are meeting at this Forum to substantively discuss the current status and prospects of cooperation and a wide range of topical issues of the world economy.

Today, the countries of Africa are well on their way towards social, economic, scientific and technological development, and are playing a significant role in international affairs. They are strengthening mutually beneficial integration processes within the African Union and other regional and sub regional organizations across the continent.

In recent years, the traditionally friendly ties of partnership between Russia and Africa have gained new momentum, both at a bilateral level and in various multilateral formats. In addition to preserving our past experience of successful cooperation, we have also managed to make significant new steps forward. Trade and investment are growing dynamically, and new joint projects are under way in extractive industries, agriculture, healthcare, and education. Russian companies are ready to offer their scientific and technological developments to their African partners, and share their experience of upgrading energy, transport and communications infrastructures.

I hope that the Forum will help identify new areas and forms of cooperation, put forward promising joint initiatives that will bring the collaboration between Russia and Africa to a qualitatively new level and contribute to the development of our economies and the prosperity of our peoples.

I wish the Forum’s participants fruitful work and all the best.

Vladimir Putin

The Russia–Africa Summit, which is taking place in Sochi on 23–24 October 2019, encapsulates the historically friendly relations between the African continent and the Russian Federation. This Summit carries great significance as it is the first of its kind to emerge during a period of major global and international transformations. In response to the aspirations of the people it is representing, the Summit intends to build a comprehensive framework for expanding Russian–African relations into broader horizons of joint cooperation across different fields.

The African nations and Russia share a common understanding of international relations, based on the principles of respect for the rule of international law, equality, non-interference in the internal affairs of states, and the peaceful resolution of disputes. Both sides affirm their commitment to support multilateral actions to oppose new international threats, be they terrorism and extremism in all their forms, or declining growth rates. The two sides share a firm conviction regarding the importance of developing trade flows and supporting mutual investment in such a way as to ensure security, peace and development for the African and Russian people.

African countries have huge potential and opportunities that will allow them, once efforts to streamline their economies have been achieved, to emerge as real global players. In recent years, the nations of this continent have achieved major successes spanning the political, economic, social and administrative spheres. Africa has flourished in terms of growth over the past decade, reaching a continent-wide growth rate of 3.55% in 2018.

The African Union Summit, which was held in Niger in July 2019, continued the efforts of the African countries and saw the African Continental Free Trade Agreement come into force, along with its operational instruments. The agreement is one of the key objectives of Agenda 2063, an African development strategy that has been created to address the African people’s desire for prosperity and decent living standards.

These successes are opening up wide-ranging prospects for cooperation between African countries and the Russian Federation, and confirm the determination of African governments and their people to cooperate with multiple partners in order to establish mutually beneficial relations.

With this in mind, we express our hopes that the Russia–Africa Summit will help in the establishment of constructive strategic relations, based on partnership between two sides across various fields, and in the service of fulfilling the hopes and aspirations of the African people and their friends in Russia.

President of the Arab Republic of Egypt
Abdelfattah ALSISI