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Pledges for more partnerships as Second Russia-Africa summit ends

Story by Justin Mahlahla in St Petersburg, Russia

The Second Russia-Africa Economic and Humanitarian Forum ended here this Friday, with the two regions pledging to work together to deepen cooperation and explore new avenues of mutual benefit.

In his address to the media fraternity at the close of the two-day summit, President Vladimir Putin said he was grateful that African leaders have demonstarted political will to work with Russia in resolving the Ukraine conflict, among other pressing issues.

He said this emanates from a history of multifaceted and fruitful collaboration dating back to Africans building their statehood.

“The Summit demonstrates a commitment by Africa and Russia to fight for a beneficial partnership,” he noted, adding this was shown by the adoption of joint documents that enshrine various dimensions of cooperation between Russia and Africa for the long term.

He noted, “Indicatively, following the work, the participants adopted a solid package of joint documents. First, I will mention the St Petersburg Declaration that was approved by the leaders. It formalises strategic areas for the development of Russia’s cooperation with African countries in long-term perspective. All our states confirmed their commitment to the formation of a fair and democratic multipolar world order based on the universally recognised principles of international law and the UN Charter. They expressed their joint resolve to counter neocolonialism, the practice of using illegitimate sanctions and attempts to undermine traditional moral values.”

President Putin also said the Russia-Africa Summit will be held every three years with ongoing dialogue and political consultations between Russia and the African Union.

Collaborations between Russia and Africa will cetre on fighting terrorism, ensuring food security and sharing of technology in outer space.

“Many spheres of Russia-Africa cooperation have resulted in separate commitments for further joint action, especially in the economic spheres, he said.

The Russian leader highlighted ongoing plans to assist Africa in economic transition to promote the use of national currencies, increase Russian exports to Africa of industrial products oncluding machines, vehicles, chemicals and fertilisers.

“We will continue to provide grain both commercially and free of charge,” he pledged.

President Putin also said Russia will continue to assist Africa in hydro carbon fuel projects and other innovative sources of energy.

The plan of action as well as a number of inter-agency and commercial documents designed to speak to information communication technologies exchange in govenance, banking and the educational spheres were also discussed at the summit, President Putin said.

“Russia has a lot to offer to African friends and colleagues. We will contniue in education. The number of students studying in Russia will be increased. We also plan to help African partners to strengthen healthcare systems to improve efficiency, rssilience and response to pandemics,” he stated, adding 1.2 billion rubles has been set aside towards fighting non communicable diseases on the African continent.

The Chairperson of the African Union and President of the Union of the Comoros Azali Assoumani said Russia has stood with Africa during difficult periods such as times of slavery and apartheid and was one of the first countries to provide support to Africa.

“This is the time to give new impetus to our relations and to start forward. We take note that Russia stands with us in the training of the labour force because human resource is very important to us,” added.

He referenced Russia expertise in industrial development and economic resilience, saying Africa must learn from her partner to grow her own economies.

He also indicated that several African states have expressed willingness to host the next summit.

“We are setting up a free trade area and we believe this will help us develop further. I am sure that with Russia’s support and partnership we will be able to implement this project and achieve tangible results,” noted Mr Assoumani.

Referring to the military operation in Ukraine, the AU leader said Russia and African leaders discussed ways of ending the conflict and President Putin has shown his readiness to engage in dialogue with President Zelensky.

“We will talk to both parties and we hope that we will achieve peace,” he said.

Some of the douments signed following the Second Russia-Africa Summit include: 1.Declaration of the Second Russia-Africa Summit; 2. Declaration of the Second Russia-Africa Summit on the Prevention of an Arms Race in Outer Space; 3. Declaration of the Second Russia-Africa Summit on Cooperation in the Field of International Information Security; 4. Declaration of the Second Russia-Africa Summit on Strengthening Cooperation in the Fight Against Terrorism; 5. Russia-Africa Partnership Forum Action Plan 2023-2026; 6. Memorandum of Understanding between the Government of the Russian Federation and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) on Basic Principles of Relations and Cooperation and 7. Memorandum of Understanding between the Government of the Russian Federation and the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) on Basic Principles of Relations and Cooperation.

More updates from the Second Russia-Africa summit are available here: www.summitafrica.ru/en

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