Speech by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov at the Russia–Africa Economic Conference in Moscow
It is my pleasure to welcome participants of the Russia–Africa Economic Conference, which is being held at the 26th Annual General Meeting of Shareholders of the African Export-Import Bank. First of all, let me express my sincere gratitude to Mr. Oramah for choosing Moscow as a platform for a Bank shareholder meeting. As far as I know, this is only the second time Afreximbank has held an event of this kind outside of Africa.
We see this as evidence of a high level of trust between Russia and the governments of Africa. Relations between us have traditionally been friendly and develop in keeping with the principles of equality, mutual respect, and consideration for each other’s interests. Our country has never participated in colonial seizures in the region and has not engaged in the barbaric plundering of its natural resources. On the contrary, we have invariably opposed various manifestations of racism, provided comprehensive assistance to African people in their struggle against colonialism, and after they have gained independence, we have helped to establish and strengthen statehood and develop national economies.
Nowadays, the countries of Africa are important international partners in upholding the values of truth and justice on the world stage, in strict observance of international law and respect for the national identity of each people group and their chosen development path. Our states — opponents of unilateral sanctions, measures of coercion, and trade wars — consistently advocate that the world trade system be fair and that all countries without exception, and not just a narrow group of states, enjoy the benefits of globalization.
On the basis of experience collected over many years of creative partnership, we are confidently moving to expand Russian–African ties in a comprehensive way. Political dialogue has intensified at the highest level. Inter-parliamentary ties have gained momentum, and we expect numerous African guests at the second International Forum on the Development of Parliamentarism and at the Russia–Africa Parliamentary Conference, which will be held in Moscow on 1–3 July of this year.
Contacts are being promoted between various ministries and departments, including foreign policy departments. Both through bilateral channels and as a permanent member of the UN Security Council, Russia has continued to support its African friends in their fight against terrorism, crime, and other cross-border threats. We contribute to efforts to resolve crises and conflicts on the continent on the basis of the principle «African solutions to African problems» that was created in the African Union (AU). At the same time, the international community must support the agreements that are being worked out by Africans, support morally, politically, financially, and materially. As part of international programmes, we provide bilateral humanitarian assistance to the countries of the continent that suffer as a result of crises and military conflicts, natural disasters, and pandemic diseases. We are training African personnel in Russian educational institutions at the expense of the state budget in civilian-acquired skills, through the Russian Ministry of Defense, law enforcement agencies, security services, and also in peacekeeping.
The solid foundation of Russian–African friendship laid through joint efforts has created favourable conditions for increasing trade, engaging in economic and investment-related exchanges, expanding cooperation in banking, and encouraging business circles to implement mutually beneficial projects in Africa.
Some degree of success has already been achieved in this respect. Trade is growing and according to last year’s results amounted to more than USD 20 billion. The list is diversifying. Large projects are being carried out in Africa in various fields with direct financial support from Russia. Some of the projects that I will mention include the construction of the first nuclear power plant in Egypt and the creation of a Russian industrial zone as well as projects that are being carried out in Africa by such Russian business leaders as Rosneft, Lukoil, Rosgeology, Gazprom, Alrosa, Vi Holding, GPB Global Resources, and the Renova Group among others.
I am convinced that the interest in building long-term trade and economic relations between Russian entrepreneurs and their African counterparts will be facilitated by cooperation with Afreximbank, who has the Russian Export Center as a shareholder.
I would also like to note the close cooperation that’s taking place with many African partners at multilateral economic platforms and which includes stabilizing the global hydrocarbon market within the framework of OPEC + and the Gas Exporting Countries Forum.
To give an additional impetus to our comprehensive interaction, including its trade and economic component, a joint decision was made to hold the first Russia–Africa Summit, which will be held in October this year in Sochi under the auspices of Russian President Vladimir Putin and President of Egypt Abdel Fattah el-Sisi as chairman of the African Union. We are expecting African heads of state and government, and leaders of the AU and other leading sub-regional organizations.
We continue to work together with our African friends to shape the agenda for the Summit. It is our hope that Afreximbank will also contribute to the substantial content of the economic programme, which looks very sound.
In the course of this truly landmark and unprecedented meeting, it is expected that we will discuss a wide range of international issues and consider ways to deepen Russian–African cooperation in various fields, from politics to culture. On the sidelines of the summit as well as during the Russia–Africa Economic Forum, which will take place the day before, a whole range of bilateral and multilateral documents are set to be signed, including interstate and interdepartmental agreements and trade agreements and contracts.
I would like to take this opportunity to urge the distinguished participants of the Conference to wholeheartedly join in the upcoming events in Sochi.
Today I would like to wish you fruitful work and your countries and peoples peace, well-being, and prosperity.