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President Filipe Nyusi arrived in Sochi yesterday, [Photo; Folha de Maputo]
Russia’s president on Wednesday opens the first Russia-Africa Summit – a sign of his country’s growing ambitions in Africa, in a meeting involving some 30 national leaders, including the presidents of Angola, Mozambique and Cabo Verde – all members of the Community of Portuguese-Language Countries (CPLP).
Vladimir Putin is hosting the summit in Sochi, a seaside resort on the Black Sea, where African leaders and thousands of other speakers will gather. Russia “has a lot to offer the African states, according to its leader.
“We are preparing and in the process of implementing investment projects with Russian holdings in the order of billions of dollars,” said Putin in an interview released on Wednesday by the state news agency Tass.
Putin’s Egyptian counterpart, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who also currently presides over the the African Union, was the strategic ally chosen by the Russian president to co-lead the summit, in a diplomatic format that reproduces the Sino-African Cooperation Forums that have since 2000 helped China to become the continent’s leading economic partner.
In his 20 years in power, Putin has only made three trips to sub-Saharan Africa, always with South Africa at the centre of the visit, but the Kremlin clearly believes that the time had come to show that African interests occupy an important part of its concerns.
In an interview released earlier this week, Putin cited as proof of Moscow’s commitment to the region its “military and security cooperation” with African states, aid in combatting the Ebola virus, the training of African officials at Russian universities – all ensuring, he said, that Russian projects in Africa are characterised by the absence of “political or other” interference.
Africa is an “important continent”, with which Moscow maintains “traditional, historical and intimate relations,” Dmitry Peskov, Putin’s spokesman, stressed to journalists, in a reference to the former Soviet Union.
Among participants at the summit are the president of Angola, João Lourenço, the president of Mozambique, Filipe Nyusi, and the president of Cabo Verde, Jorge Carlos Fonseca. Sao Tome and Principe is represented by its foreign minister, Elsa Pinto.
Lourenço is visiting Russia for the second time this year, once again expecting to sign several agreements. According to his office, “the presidential mission in Russian territory is the signing of bilateral agreements in several areas, such as [on] the training of officials and the establishment of a fertiliser industry in Angola.”
At the summit in Sochi, Lourenço is to address a session reserved for national leaders on Wednesday; the next day he is to have a meeting with Putin to assess “the state of bilateral relations” and discuss “contemporary themes”, a note from his office said. He is also have audiences with figures from Russian politics and society, as well as leaders of banks, industrial and agricultural enterprises and producers of precious ores and diamonds.
In April, Lourenço was in Moscow for an four-day official visit at the invitation of his Russian counterpart, with the aim of extending bilateral cooperation.
Accompanying him this time will be the ministers of economics and planning, of foreign relations; of agriculture and forestry; of higher education, science, technology and innovation, and of mineral resources and oils.
For his part, Nyusi is accompanied by his foreign minister but also the minister for transport and communications, Carlos Mesquita, the deputy minister for mineral resources and energy, Augusto Fernando, and several officials from his own office and other state institutions, according to a statement.
Nyusi is to take part in the Russia-Africa Business Forum, which is to be held on the sidelines of the summit, and to have meetings with several Russian businesspeople.
Lusa has tried to confirm who is representing Guinea-Bissau at the summit, but this has been not possible.
The country is experiencing renewed instability after the prime minister, Aristides Gomes, on Monday reported an alleged coup attempt, accusing Umaro Sissoco Embaló, a candidate in the 24 November presidential elections supported by the Movement for Democratic alternation (Madem G15).
The the wake of the controversy, Guinea-Bissau’s president, José Mário Vaz, cancelled his schedule for Tuesday.Source: Lusa
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