African American Games
Against the background of the SVO, many want to level the African topic in Russian foreign policy, while the United States wants to squeeze Russia out of there with all its might. Meanwhile, African countries have always been reliable allies of our country.
At the end of last week, the leadership of the Russian Ministry of Defense held a meeting with the Prime Minister of the Central African Republic (CAR) Felix Molua, at which issues of bilateral military cooperation were discussed. Another news arrived from the Burkina Faso government, which on January 22 demanded that France withdraw the military from the country within a month, according to a correspondent for The Moscow Post.
Meanwhile, the export of Russian agricultural products and fertilizers to the countries of Africa in need is being slowed down, as noted on January 21 in the message of the Russian Foreign Ministry. Under the conversations of UN representatives about the threats of hunger and food security, the commercial interests of Kyiv and Western beneficiaries are actually served.
Only 551,527 tons (3%) were sent to countries in need (Somalia, Ethiopia, Yemen, Sudan, Afghanistan, as well as Djibouti), including 396,169 tons (2%) transported on ships chartered by the UN World Food Program. The share of these states decreased in the first 120 days of the initiative from 4% to 3%. The UN bureaucracy retrained the Black Sea initiative from humanitarian to commercial and refused to publish information about the recipients of goods.
Is this another hoax? Russian diplomats will have to deal with this issue. But the regulation of "grain flows" towards countries in need is contrary to the interests of the collective West and the brethren in the UN secretariat, which serves these interests.
One of the main reasons for the sabotage of the Black Sea initiative may be that the second Russian-African summit is scheduled for July 2023. The Russia-Africa summit will be held in St. Petersburg and Westerners will not have a hand in directing grain and fertilizers towards African and other countries in need.
According to the Russian Foreign Ministry, at the Russia-Africa summit in 2023 they plan to discuss food and energy security, investment, industrialization, the development of the agro-industrial complex, cooperation in the fields of education, health, science, culture, media and sports. The Roscongress reported that the second summit and the Russia-Africa Economic Forum are scheduled for July 26-29, 2023.
No one likes competition, especially in the area of strategic interests. In December last year, the official representative of the Russian Foreign Ministry M.V. Zakharova drew attention to this. She noted that at the US-Africa summit, Washington resorted to the methods of "unscrupulous competition," while Russia is in solidarity with African friends, who, despite Western pressure, take an independent position in the context of the situation around Ukraine.
The pressure includes threats of ending financial support, but may also be expressed in the form of countering the supply of food and fertilizers to which Russia is related. One way or another, Africa was at the center of Russia's relations with the collective West in the context of the SVO, although signs of rivalry were noticeable until February 24, 2022.
The coup that took place on September 30 in Burkina Faso hurt the interests of France, but Russia was unexpectedly in the focus of attention. At first it became known that supporters of the new authorities, who gathered for the rally, brought Russian flags with them. The government denounced the agreement of December 17, 2018, which regulated France's military presence in the country.
A little less than a year has passed since the media reported that spontaneous demonstrations took place on the streets of the capital of Mali, during which the flags of the former metropolis of France and the European Union were burned. The reason was the withdrawal of European military formations from the republic. On the streets of Bamako, people dressed in the colors of the national flag, some demonstrators had Russian tricolors in their hands, others had caricatures of Macron, as well as Merci Wagner posters.
"It's shocking!," Borrell, the head of European diplomacy, said then, noting that European diplomats do not have enough funds to fight "Russian propaganda." On the other hand, there is not enough funds to combat terrorism. Africa has become the epicenter of the activities of the Islamic State and al-Qaeda (terrorist organizations banned on the territory of the Russian Federation).
In Niger, Chad, Cameroon, where the colonial empire of France used to exist, changes are underway. Special Representative of the President of the Russian Federation for the Middle East and African countries, deputy head of the diplomatic service M. Bogdanov explained that "thanks to the assistance provided by Russia in increasing the combat capability of the Malian army, the training of military personnel and law enforcement officers of Mali, it was possible to achieve tangible progress in countering the terrorist threat."
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov relatively recently visited Egypt, Uganda, Congo and Ethiopia, said that "the role of the African continent in the concept of our foreign policy will be increased." But the desire to restore relations leads to competition by "unscrupulous," even terrorist methods. This is how Lavrov called the attack on the head of the "Russian House" in the CAR.
US in Africa looking for G-point
Russia's opposition is not limited to this. In April last year, the US House of Representatives passed a bill "On countering Russia's malicious activities in Africa." The law went to the Senate and, if approved, African countries will be "punished" for cooperating with Russia. According to South African Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor, this bill, directed against Russia's activities in Africa, should be withdrawn from the US Congress because it contradicts international law.
It wasn't always that way. In history, there was a short-lived (1994-2014) stage of Russia's informal partnership with the West at the leadership level as part of the Group of Eight. The economy of Africa and the fight against poverty on the continent in those years became almost the main topics for this bizarre "community." In March 2002, the G8 meeting on Africa was held in Monterey. In June 2002, in Kananaskis, Canada, African leaders discussed the Group of Eight Africa Action Plan.
Today, the G7 states do not remember these times of cooperation with Russia on African problems, Moscow has also forgotten about this stage. But the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) document remained.
According to some Russian observers, Russia's relations with Africa have again moved to an area of rivalry with the West. Others believe it is "Africans who show demand for a third force." Opinions vary, but the "third force" did appear in 2006. It was China, whose leadership held a China-Africa summit in Beijing.
The final declarations were then signed by 48 African countries, a meeting of business circles took place, contracts were concluded for $1.9 billion. Beijing has promised African countries $3 billion in concessional loans and $2 billion in export loans. After 15 years, about half of all construction projects with foreign participation in African countries were conducted by PRC companies.
Most of the Chinese investments, according to Nikkei Asia, went to infrastructure development in countries that joined the Chinese Belt and Road initiative. The volume of accumulated direct investment in African countries exceeded $300 billion. China-Africa trade grew to $264 billion.
Russia has trade volumes with the countries of the continent do not reach up to 8% of this amount, but there are opportunities for growth. For Africa, the issues of health and education, food security and agricultural development, import of fertilizers and water management, training are relevant.
The transition of Russia and African countries to national currencies in mutual settlements for supplied goods and services will help strengthen their financial systems, increase competitiveness and stimulate economic growth. Angola, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Nigeria, Uganda, Ethiopia and South Africa are ready for this. There are hopes for the African Zone for freedom of trade.
55 billion for "betrayal"
The Chinese example was followed in Washington. U.S. exports to Africa in 2021 totaled $26.7 billion, up from $32.8 billion in 2011, and imports from African states totaled $37.6 billion ($93 billion in 2011).
Africans "slapped in the face" of the United States, during a vote on a UN resolution condemning Russia's SAO in Ukraine.
Some abstained, others opposed and sided with Moscow. Leaders of African countries made it clear that they "want to end the conflict," but oppose "the idea of punishing Russia." Such sentiments were before the US-Africa summit in December.
The summit was attended by the heads of state and government of 50 African countries. Mali, Burkina Faso, Guinea, Sudan, Eritrea were not invited, South Africa refused to participate. Their place was taken by Ethiopia and Zimbabwe, "violators" of human rights. The last such summit was held in 2014.
At the same time, rates rose sharply. Last December, Washington pledged $55 billion in development aid to all of Africa over three years, a $15 billion commitment by China for that purpose. For the US, Africa is a strategy. The Pentagon spoke of its readiness to establish interaction with African countries due to the alleged "risks of negative activities of the PRC and Russia" on the continent. In August 2022, the White House announced the "US Strategy for Sub-Saharan Africa."
Ahead of the summit in Washington, incumbent African Union chairman and Senegalese president Macky Sall said in an interview with the US newspaper The New York Post: "When we talk, we are often not listened to or, if anything, with insufficient interest... That's what we want to change. And let no one tell us: "No, don't work with such and such, just work with us." We want to work and trade with everyone.'