BRICS 2018: Putin’s address to African heads

Russian President Vladimiri Putin

MOSCOW, Russia,– Those invited included the leaders of African countries, namely, Angola, Botswana, Ethiopia, Gabon, Lesotho, Madagascar, Mauritius, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, Senegal, the Seychelles, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

The meeting was also attended by the heads of Argentina (the current chair of the G20), Turkey (the current chair of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation) and Jamaica (the current chair of the Caribbean Community).

Before the meeting, there was a joint photo session.

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Speech at the meeting of BRICS leaders with delegation heads from invited states

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Colleagues,

I would like to begin by greeting the leaders of African states and the heads of the countries that are the current chairs of the G20, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation and the Caribbean Community.

I am grateful to the President of the Republic of South Africa for organising this representative meeting. Five years ago in Durban, BRICS leaders held a meeting with the heads of African states for the first time. Since then, our Group of Five and African countries have greatly strengthened and expanded their cooperation in the economy, politics and the humanitarian sphere.

Africa is one of the world’s most rapidly developing regions. According to the UN, the population of this continent will reach 2.5 billion by 2050. The level of urbanisation in Africa is increasing as well: the proportion of the population living in urban areas is expected to reach 60 percent by 2050.

The domestic African market and consumer demand are expanding. BRICS and the African states have similar development goals in many respects. In 2015, the BRICS summit in Russia adopted the large-scale BRICS Strategy for Economic Partnership.

We need to think about involving our African partners and friends in the work of each of the areas we identified then: the economy, finance, and food security.

Russia has always given priority to the development of relations with African countries, based on long-standing traditions of friendship and mutual assistance. We have recently held a number of high-level contacts, including with many of the leaders present in this room.

Russia’s trade with African states grew by more than 25 percent in 2017. Food supplies increased by 38 percent, metals – by 30, machinery and equipment – by 24 percent.

We need to think about involving our African partners and friends in the work of each of the areas we identified then: the economy, finance, and food security

Russian businesses are interested in working with African partners in a variety of areas, including industry, agriculture, healthcare, communications, geology and mining.

I will give just a few examples of Russian companies’ interaction with countries represented at this forum.

Yesterday, the President of Angola and I talked about the joint work of Angolan companies and the Russian company Alrosa in developing the Katoka diamond deposit, which accounts for 6 percent of the world’s diamond output.

A joint venture was launched in Burundi to manufacture lighting equipment, with some of the products intended for export to other countries in East Africa.

Senegal is implementing projects in agriculture and building poultry and fish processing plants.

I would like to note in particular that Russia plans to increase its assistance to the development of the national energy sector in African states. We are implementing promising oil and gas projects with a number of countries, such as Angola, Mozambique, and Gabon.

In the nuclear power industry, where Russia is a technological leader, we offer our African partners the creation of an entire industry on a turnkey basis. Agreements on cooperation in the field of atoms for peace have been signed with a number of countries in the region, while in some of them the work has acquired a practical dimension. All these projects will be of strategic importance for Africa, where, according to different estimates, as many as 600 million people still live without electricity.

A considerable part of Russian initiatives provides for localising industrial businesses in Africa, including, among other things, the construction of plants manufacturing component parts and assembly works.

The implementation of these joint projects will serve to strengthen the industrial potential, support local businesses and create new and well-paid jobs. On the whole, this will lead to an improvement in living standards and a solution of social problems in African states.

Russia has a vested interest in intensifying interaction with African regional and sub-regional organisations, primarily with the African Union as well as the Southern African Development Community.

The amount of Russian assistance to Africa exceeded one billion dollars in 2017. Russian contributions to the World Food Programme fund are constantly growing. Russia is the fifth biggest contributor to the UNIDO Industrial Development Fund.

Considerable funds are remitted to the World Health Organisation for the fight against non-infectious diseases on the African continent. Our work to combat the Ebola virus has proved highly efficient.

Russia has for years trained national professional personnel for countries of the continent. Currently, thousands of Africans are being educated in Russia. We will continue to build up cooperation in this sphere.

In conclusion, I would like to inform you that we are studying the idea of holding a Russia-Africa summit with the participation of heads of African states. This could be preceded by relevant meetings of prominent business people, experts, and public figures; I intend to discuss this with representatives of African countries.

Thank you for your attention.