Russia and Africa. View from space / News / News agency Inforos
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Russia and Africa. View from space

Moscow bought a ticket to the "African Express"

Russia and Africa. View from space

I believe that geopolitical processes can better and clearer be seen if we look at the Earth from the Moon. Everything is spread before the eyes. Connections between the continents and the strategic movement of certain global trends can be well and what is more concisely described.

And at the beginning of the 21st century, closer to 2020-s, the following picture of global processes can be seen. The development leader of the past centuries, Europe, can no more cope with its burden. The integration program called the European Union, under which people lived a comfortable, sleepy, satisfactory and rather boring life, is showing a rather dangerous trend of coming to an end. Brexit, no matter how we treat it, highlights ongoing troubles. And now the many-century leadership of the Old World is becoming just a pleasant memory and nothing more. Europe will find itself on the roadside of the global development if it doesn't participate in Eurasian processes. And its cooperation with Asia has rather dim prospects because of the mixed feeling of fear and contempt that Europe, this Eurasian peninsula, has towards gigantic spaces to the east of the Danube.

The USA has its own problems linked to the crisis in domestic political struggle, behind which there is looming the collapse of the dollar financial system that brought America to the top of global dominance but can no more guarantee it. Well, any system has its stages of life: birth, golden age, decay and death. Today, the USA is moving from the golden age to decay, and many people in America understand and this. But what can be done with objective circumstances of development?

Domestic American problems make the USA loosen its grip of everyday control of Latin American affairs, and today this has resulted in Trump's demand that a wall on the border with Mexico be built in order to separate the USA from South America. And how can the Monroe Doctrine, which was called to ensure the USA's dominance in both Americas, be implemented in these conditions?

Growing Asia has already passed the period of adolescence and challenged former Western leaders. The trade war between the USA and China is exactly about this. Once, the Yankees "hobbled and stalled" Japan after a period of its brilliant development, when the Land of the Rising Sun was growing 19% annually in 1960-s. The Yankees had enough power and resources to stop the competitor. The same doesn't work for China today. Not only China, but also India and ASEAN member states are growing in Asia. This means that Asia is improving its positions in global economic and political affairs. So, it doesn't need trade and economic competitors from a distant land as there enough of them in the neighborhood.

What else do we have? Australia and New Zealand, but it's rather strange to perceive them as a region of the future global growth. Middle East? Well, it will sooner or later become a part of the trans-Eurasian cooperation as one of the sources of energy power. Probably, it will become a part of this cooperation even before high-browed and very proud Euro-optimists understand the advantages of this.

And suddenly, the elimination approach prompts a conclusion that it is Africa that has clear potential to grow, the region that is so far asleep but that has already started to raise the voice as a region interested in accomplishing its part of the global development mission rather than a successor of the colonial era.

Colonialists from Europe plundered Africa for one simple reason: they lacked natural resources on their "peninsula." So, they brought everything they were able plunder and take from Africa to Europe. Now this all over now for them. Long-standing members of the British Commonwealth have started to quit it, as London, as a senior partner, has become no more interesting for them. It is hard to imagine what will happen to the Commonwealth after Brexit and the possible collapse of the United Kingdom as a result.

The Americans seem to have decided to spend funds on dozens of military bases under the Pentagon's control establishing AFRICOM, but that didn't work out. In any case, the Yankees don't have much profit from trade and economic relations with Africa, although military bases have always been a guarantee of successful business process. But no results can be seen here, only expenditures.

China rather fruitfully entered Africa at the beginning of the century. Although buying local lands and natural resources deposits is not an obvious way of making money for China. The Africans accept investment but it's not quite clear where China's economic profit is. It would be very interesting to look at how much these projects add to China's GDP. The Chinese have invested a lot, about 200 billion dollars, in Africa since 2000. It is unknown what part of the investments has returned to China. Chinese comrades wouldn't hide their success if there was a result.

And here we come to the question why Russia has entered Africa in these conditions? Well, firstly, the idea of the Russia-Africa summit first appeared in Moscow in late 1980-s shortly before the collapse of the Soviet Union. Secondly, after the collapse we had other things to address but Africa, but as a person who worked in Africa, I can say that our return was awaited there. And when President of Angola Joao Lourenco told Vladimir Putin in Sochi: "today Africa is free largely thanks to the endeavor of the Russian people," it was no exaggeration. Former colonialists are feared of but respected there for their power. Moscow is respected there for assistance the USSR once brought to Africa.

Given that Africa may soon, after the current global economic reshaping and crisis is over, become a rapidly growing continent, Russia's return to the 30-years-old idea could be considered as "investment in the future." Today, we have written off African debts worth almost 20 billion dollars, but the creation of Russia's economic zone on the Suez Canal near Cairo covered by Russian armed forces (and there are already first joint air defense drills with the Egyptians taking place) would bring much more money.

Russia and African countries signed agreements worth over 800 billion rubles at the Sochi forum, Russian presidential advisor Anton Kobyakov said. And Egypt is becoming the "gate" to Africa for Russian businessmen, and this "gate" is defended by our guardsmen.

The Africans are very much impressed by the performance of Russian troops and forces in Syria. That is why the issue of purchasing Russian arms and sending Russian military advisors to a number of countries was raised many times in Sochi. Noteworthy, these are the countries that previously allied with the West but now have seen the difference in efficiency of former colonialists and Russia's armed forces. These contracts were paid by African governments rather than by Moscow "on trust" as it was before. For example, the president of Uganda said in Sochi that his country would like to purchase more Russian arms and equipment. His statement, saying "We want to buy more. We will pay cash and fast," was largely circulated in media.

It is a common knowledge that Russia is ready to provide assistance to security agencies, for example in the Sahel zone, where a joint military contingent to combat terrorism and organized crime was set up. President of the Central African Republic Faustin-Archange Touadera announced that he was considering a possibility of establishing Russia's military base in his country.

That is why when Russia made about 300 business proposals in the sphere of medicine, energy, transport, natural resources and others, at the Sochi forum, this meant real trade rather than "gratis" assistance. "Together with the Ministry of Economic Development we prepared a map of Russian expertise for Africa. This is information and analytical software that was prepared by more than 170 Russian companies and organizations," Anton Kobyakov said. And Russian arms would be a good guarantee that no one meddles with this trade. Competition is one case, toppling governments that are ready to have business with the Russians is another case. And such things happened here before. Hopefully, this won't repeat itself. However, for example, a color revolution came to Ethiopia, just a week after the Sochi summit...

One more thing, it has been widely discussed that a similarly representative forum of the USA and Africa was convened under Obama. Well, they forget to say that far fewer heads of state and government - largely there were delegations at the middle level - came to America then. And a large number of African countries didn't get an invitation to the USA, even Afro-American Obama didn't want to see them, he just divided the Africans into the "first and second class." In Russia, all 54 African countries without exception were represented, and heads of state of more than 40 of them came to Sochi.

A last one touch. Obama convened the forum in 2014 and then... simply forgot about Africa. There was not continuation, whereas in Sochi a decision was made to hold Russia-Africa summit once in three years. Metaphorically speaking, Russia bought a ticket to the "African Express" heading to the future. Well, it could have been left on the platform in other circumstances.

... And yes, it is sometimes very useful to look at the Earth from the Moon. Prospects can be seen clearer.

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