Russians urging greater EXIAR engagement with Africa

(Weekly Blitz, Dhaka, 29 April 2023) Russia’s weak economic presence in Africa has become a significant question of concern for some experts as they wonder why the nation is not aggressive with this like its ally, China. Smaller countries, such as Turkey, are visibly broadening their economic influence, strengthening business investments and so are a number of Gulf States. “It is important for us to expand and improve competitive government support instruments for business. Senator Igor Morozov, a member of the Federation Council Committee on Economic Policy and Chairman of the Coordinating Committee on Economic Cooperation with Africa stressed: "It is obvious that over the thirty years when Russia left Africa, a number of countries such as China, India, the United States and the European Union have significantly increased their investment opportunities there in the region”. The meeting collectively acknowledged Africa as a huge continent that still requires economic development. Its active demographic growth and abundance of natural resources offer conditions to become the world’s biggest market in the next few decades. Nikita Gusakov, Head of the Russian Export Credit and Investment Insurance Agency (EXIAR), reiterated that Africa was a priority for the agency, outlining a number of deals that EXIAR has been involved in on the continent. He reiterated at the meeting, one of the roadblocks is the lack of adequate knowledge among Russian companies about the opportunities available in Africa. It is partly due to limited interaction with the private sector actors and civil society. During the Ministerial Conference of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), Chinese President Xi Jinping said: “China will expand cooperation in investment and financing to support sustainable development in Africa. China provided $60 billion of credit line to African countries to assist them in developing infrastructure, agriculture, manufacturing and small and medium-sized enterprises.” Russia could consider the Chinese model of financing various infrastructure and construction projects in Africa. Secretariat of the Russia-Africa Partnership Forum (RAPF) agreed during a recent meeting that lack of financial support was the major reason for Russia’s weak economic footprints across Africa. The representatives leading Russian companies and banks, in attendance, discussed an effective system of financing projects and supporting investment in Africa.