Development of cooperation with Africa is profitable strategy, expert says

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Cooperation with Africa, which several years ago was a costly affair, is now a profitable strategy, Dean of the Faculty of World Economy and International Affairs at Moscow’s Higher School of Economics, the head of the group of authors of a report on Africa’s prospects for development and recommendations for Russia’s policy Sergey Karaganov said presenting the report at TASS on Wednesday.

“We can return there (to Africa – TASS) but already on a different basis, drawing mutual benefits. When we were young we paid a lot for a ‘trip to Africa.’ Now it is not a costly strategy anymore but a profitable one. It is necessary to attract to it as many people as possible from [the spheres of] business, politics and the society as well,” the expert said.

He rated cooperation with African countries as one of the most important foreign policy directions for Russia. “Of course, we need to overcome the waning interest that has emerged over the past two-three decades, in Africa, a rapidly developing continent. This trend needs to be turned around,” the expert emphasized. In his opinion, the report may be useful to a large number of people simply because despite its rather small volume “it conveys a lot – both the descriptions of the situation in Africa and the opportunities Africa provides for Russia.”

TASS First Deputy Director General Mikhail Gusman noted that when Africa was being liberated from colonial oppression, “the world was watching Africa with high expectations.” “Then, as it seems to me, that interest somewhat faded worldwide or disappeared altogether. And then in recent years, again the topic of Africa, its development, its prospects, its future has become more relevant than ever. And Russian politicians, Russian diplomats, Russian scholars are being involved in it,” he stressed.

According to him, the report prepared by the Faculty of World Economy and International Affairs at Moscow’s Higher School of Economics within the framework of the program of case studies under the auspices of the Russian Foreign Ministry will help African countries better understand what Russia can do for them. “We, on the part of the TASS agency, via our channels, via the channels of our colleagues, the journalists of different media outlets, will try to convey the content of presentations and of the report (to the representatives of African countries – TASS),” TASS First Deputy Director General said.

As one of the reports’ authors, Deputy Director of the Center for Comprehensive European and International Studies at Moscow’s Higher School of Economics Dmitry Suslov noted, Africa is a friendly region for Russia. According to him, not only is this related to the historical experience – Russia has never been one of Africa’s colonizers while the Soviet Union enormously contributed to the economic development of many African countries and the overcoming of the colonial dependence. “Yet, not to a lesser degree, or even to a greater extent, this friendliness is related to the modern reality. <…> Africa does not fear Russia as opposed to some other global centers of power. Russia’s lack of desire <…> to dictate, to build its own system of hegemony in the region, to meddle into internal affairs, to impose its model of development, all of this sets Russia apart from other global players,” he said.

Yet, the most important thing, according to the expert, is that Russia today is the only global center of power “that truly and sincerely supports the African integration, both economic and political.” Russia wins from the African integration. “Russia does not need to subjugate some African countries and use their natural resources or use them as satellites in the battle of superpowers. Russia is interested in strengthening the market and strengthening the friendly entity of international relations,” the expert emphasized.

According to another co-author, Andrey Maslov of the Center for African Studies at Moscow’s Higher School of Economics, Russia’s competitive advantage is that Russian interests do not contradict the African ones. “We are not interested in buying raw materials from them as cheaply as possible, not interested in preserving the backwardness of African economies but interested in developing exports, in establishing and developing their sovereignty,” he said.

Source: Russian News Agency