Interview of the Ambassador V.Sibilev to “First Issue” BTV Programme on the “Russia-Africa” Summit
1. What is the objective of Russia-Africa Forum?
The Russia–Africa Summit and Economic Forum took place on 23–24 October in Sochi. The objective of the Summit was, first of all, to improve political dialogue and economic cooperation with our traditional partners and new friends in Africa.
2. What was the realisation made that necessitated the Forum?
All 54 African states were represented officially at the Russia–Africa Summit and Economic Forum. 45 countries were represented by their heads of state and government. Due to the general elections which coincided with the Summit and Economic Forum the Republic of Botswana was represented by the Ambassador to the Russian Federation with the Residence in Stockholm Ms Chandapiwa Nteta.
The Forum’s events were attended as well by the heads of executive bodies of the main African regional economic associations, including Executive Secretary of the Southern African Development Community Stergomena Tax whose Headquarter is located in Gaborone.
Overall, Sochi hosted more than 35 official events and more than 1,500 meetings, with a whole package of bilateral documents signed on the sidelines, including more than 50 contracts worth about US $12.5 billion.
That is why, I guess, the goal was successively achieved.
3. What was learned during the Forum that would help Russia-Africa relations?
Official delegations from African countries and business representatives expressed their keen interest in the further development of relations, and in deepening Russian-African full-scale cooperation. Priority areas of cooperation were to discuss energy, including renewables, infrastructure development and especially railway and housing construction, modern and high-tech extraction and processing of mineral resources, agriculture, digital technologies, oil and gas exploration, medicine, science and education.
President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin said that in 2018 the total trade volume between Russia and Africa was 20.7 billion dollars, however, it still does not reflect the real potential of trade, economic and investment cooperation. However, the trade between Russia and Africa has doubled over the last five years, and all the prerequisites are in place for this figure to grow further. A new goal is to repeat the success for the next 4-5 years. Six of the ten fastest growing economies in the world today are in Africa. This is a continent that is home to the youngest and fastest-growing population on the planet. Mutually beneficial partnership, therefore, is crucial to the development of our countries’ economies, and the Russia–Africa Summit will play a leading role in this process.
4. What is it that Russia would be offering Africa that the two other superpowers (China & USA) could not?
The historic significance of the Russia-Africa format events is obvious. Modern Russia, with its vast experience of successful cooperation with African countries during the Soviet era, is now ready to offer the African continent a equal partnership and jointly uncover the potential accumulated over decades.
Russia is considered by our African friends as a true partner which provided its assistance in resolving a set of diverse challenges concerning the strengthening of their sovereignty and national security. Russia could deliver simultaneously military products, develop energy, including nuclear and solar, explore mineral stores, build roads and train specialists.
Moreover, our country is not associated with the colonial past of the African continent. That is why, the Russian Federation may be trusted as an unbiased mediator in settling conflicts.
5. Is the Russia Africa Economic Forum and Summit going to be annual event?
At the Summit a final declaration was adopted by the all participants. The document outlines a set of goals and objectives for the further development of Russian-African cooperation in politics, security, economy, science, technology, culture and humanitarian fields.
It is worth noting that the declaration includes a new mechanism for dialogue, the Russian-African partnership mechanism, which stipulates that Russia–Africa Summit is to be held once every three years.
During the period between the summits, the Russian Federation is to hold annual political consultations with ministers of foreign affairs of the Russian Federation and the African countries representing current, past and future chairmanship of the African Union.
6. What sort of future do you envision for the Russia-Africa relations?The first Russia-Africa Summit was highly appreciated by both the Russian leadership and the leaders of African states. We believe that this unprecedented event has become a turning point for the entire range of Russian-African ties to ascend to a qualitatively new level when Russia and African countries will become more close partners who assist each other in economic and technological development and cooperate in defining the future of humanity within UN bodies and other international organisations and forums.