Russia Looks to Increased African Cooperation to Counter US-AFRICOM

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Russia will be giving US-Africom a real challenge in Africa – but not by way of exerting any military interference onto the continent, but through win-win trade agreements. Africa is still decades behind much of the rest of the world in terms of industrial development, but Chinese investment has gone a long way to help turn that around. Standing on this shoulders, Russia now looks to pick up where it left off in its Soviet era relations with numerous African nations.

FRN asked George Elombi, Vice President of the African Import and Export Bank  (Afreximbank) for his expert opinion. Commenting on the areas with greater perspective of collaboration between Russia and Africa, Elombi said:

Extraction of mineral resources, railway infrastructures and civil aviation are the main sectors in which African countries are seeking collaboration with Russia, 

This is a wide range of areas: the extraction of mineral resources, where Russia already has great experience from the point of view of equipment, fertilizers, railway infrastructure, agricultural sector, financial services, civil aviation,

Such sectors are part of the interests of Russian colleagues, as well as offer[ing] various opportunities for Russian exporters.

We regard imports from Russia as the most striking, as well as the pursuit of markets in Russia for African exporters, 

The main objective of this bank, founded in 1993 in the Nigerian capital of Abuja, is to develop and promote trade between African countries internally and externally.

Now headquartered in Cairo (Egypt), the institution also has subsidiaries in Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Kenya and Zimbabwe, and since 2017 the Export Center of Russia is its shareholders.

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Meanwhile, Zambia is in danger of losing some of its sovereign assets over its huge foreign debt to China.

According to the Africa Confidential edition , the current crisis in the African country is due to the huge debt to Chinese companies and funds that it is not able to pay. The country may even be forced to give Beijing ownership of its transport and energy infrastructures, as well as some promising extractive industries, including diamonds.

Many of the debts have to do with construction projects still financed by China. The Asian giant forces Zambia to participate with 15% in all projects, increasing debt in the geometric progression, because the country simply has no money. Thus, if the Zambian authorities do not repay the loans, Beijing may confiscate the assets.

At the same time, the U.S has failed to find development projects it deems worth the risk in Zambia, and instead has focused on building a military presence via AFRICOM on the continent. From a strategic perspective, this seems unmanageable given the size of Africa. AFRICOM is headquartered not in Africa, but in Stuttgart, Germany.

The situation has led the United Kingdom, Finland, Ireland and Sweden to withhold $34 million to support Zambia’s education and social assistance initiatives, as they fear the money will be used inappropriately, the country’s finance minister said, Margaret Mwanakatwe.

Zambia’s foreign debt increased from $ 8.70 billion at the end of 2017 to $ 9.37 billion in June this year, according to Reuters. In addition, its Ministry of Finance announced at the end of August that the country’s public debt reached 14.6 billion dollars, or 53% of its GDP.

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