By Victoria Ojeme
Over 50 African heads of state and 3,000 delegates are to attend the first ever Russia-Africa summit holding in Sochi, Russia.
According to experts, the summit would help to address many issues ranging from the recent increase in economic, security, and political-diplomatic engagements that would foster Russia-Africa relations.
Over fifty African leaders, including President Muhammadu Buhari, are expected to be at the top-level meeting, which will be co-chaired by Russian President Vladimir Putin and Egypt’s Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.
“We expect that our African colleagues, representatives of the business community will come to Sochi with a solid package of proposals aimed at enhancing bilateral relations,” Putin said in an interview with the state news agency TASS.
“We will consider these initiatives with great interest and decide what could be launched right away and what will require further elaboration,” he said.
Putin said Russia has a lot to offer “our African friends” but noted that details of the offers would be discussed at the summit. He said the summit was to build a fair partnership relations based on equality and mutual practical interest.
“We intend to discuss relevant ideas with our partners, systematise and reflect them as concretely as possible in the final declaration,” he said.
The summit is coming at a time when the geopolitical competition for what analysts called the new scramble for Africa is intense. But Putin said Russia has no intent to “participate in a new ‘re-partition’ of the continent’s wealth” but to engage in competition for cooperation in compliance with the law.
The Russian leader also expressed confidence that Africans were not interested in the escalation of confrontation between the major powers in the continent.
“On the contrary, they would like the rivalry to give way to cooperation in addressing urgent challenges for Africa, such as terrorism, crime, drug trafficking, uncontrolled migration, poverty, highly infectious diseases. I would like to reiterate that this is the kind of work Russia is willing to participate in.
“Our African agenda is positive and future-oriented. We do not ally with someone against someone else, and we strongly oppose any geopolitical “games” involving Africa,” he said.