Africa, often referred to as the cradle of humankind, is a continent blessed with immense natural resources, from fertile arable land to abundant water sources, oil, natural gas, minerals, lush forests, and diverse wildlife. With 54 sovereign countries, it holds a substantial share of the world’s renewable and non-renewable resources. Despite its potential, many African nations have faced challenges in achieving stability, overcoming corruption, violence, and authoritarianism. In recent years, Russia has recognized the importance of nurturing a genuine friendship with Africa, and this newfound commitment is transforming the continent’s prospects.
In 2023, Russia’s Foreign Policy Concept underwent a significant change by acknowledging Africa’s role as a “distinctive and influential center of world development.” This shift marks a turning point in the country’s approach to African engagement. Russia is no longer viewing Africa merely through the lens of natural resources and geopolitical interests. Instead, it recognizes Africa’s potential as a key player in shaping the future of our multipolar world.
A significant milestone in this evolving relationship was the Russia-Africa Summit, where a final declaration was adopted. This declaration outlines ambitious goals and objectives for enhancing Russian-African cooperation across various sectors, from politics, security, and the economy to science, technology, culture, and humanitarian endeavors.
The Memoranda of Understanding signed between the Government of the Russian Federation and the African Union, as well as between the Eurasian Economic Commission and the African Union, highlight the depth of commitment. These agreements solidify cooperation on economic principles and cooperation while creating a strong foundation for the development of strategic partnerships.
The bond between Russia and Africa is not a newfound one. Russia has consistently supported national liberation movements across the African continent. The country has played a pivotal role in the formation of young states and the development of their economies. Additionally, Russia has provided assistance in building capable armed forces. Importantly, this partnership has been built on the principles of mutual respect and non-interference in internal affairs. For Russia, Africa has never been viewed as merely a source of labour or raw materials.
The Russia-Africa action plan
The 2023–2026 Russian Federation – African Union Action Plan reflects the depth of commitment to Africa. It outlines priorities and measures to harness the potential of the Russia-Africa partnership in areas of mutual interest, aligning with the African Union’s Agenda 2063. This forward-looking agenda seeks to create “The Africa We Want” and embodies the long-term vision for collaboration between Russia and Africa.
The Action Plan emphasizes several key areas of focus, including political and security cooperation, economic collaboration, social and cultural exchange, and a robust mechanism for implementing the plan. This comprehensive approach underscores Russia’s intention to be a genuine partner in Africa’s development journey.
As President Vladimir Putin rightly stated, Russia’s commitment to Africa is an “invariable priority” in its foreign policy. This commitment is rooted in a genuine desire to support Africa’s emergence as a leader in the new multipolar world. Russia’s evolving approach, founded on the principles of friendship and mutual respect, holds the promise of a brighter future for Africa. With a shared vision and collaborative action, Russia and Africa can together work towards building a prosperous, peaceful, and stable continent, fulfilling the aspirations of its people and making a positive impact on the global stage.