Russia is looking to increase energy cooperation with African countries as it strives to play a more influential role in global energy markets.
President Vladimir Putin will host the Russia-Africa Summit in Sochi this week as Russia looks to expand its footprint in Africa.
Africa is already a major producer of key commodities, but with its population and economies growing steadily, the continent is also emerging as a major demand hub. This is why these sectors will be at the heart of Russia’s push towards Africa.
Already, Russia’s Rosneft has also signed an agreement with Nigeria’s Oranto on future cooperation in Africa on oil and gas production, refining, logistics and trading projects across Africa.
An earlier statement by the President’s spokesman, Malam Garba Shehu, in Abuja at the weekend, said the summit would focus on exploring and expanding opportunities in security, trade and investment, science and technology, and gas production.
During the summit, according to the statement, Buhari will meet with President Vladimir Putin of Russia to further strengthen relations between Nigeria and Russia.
Shehu said that the two leaders would hold bilateral talks on security, trade and investment, and building partnership that would enhance Nigeria’s huge gas potential following Russia’s remarkable success in gas exportation.
Indigo Ellis, head of Africa at risk consultancy Verisk Maplecroft, said African governments would welcome Russia’s renewed interest as they are “slowly waking to the realities of China’s murky lending, and long aware of the West’s conditional, and ever scarcer loans.” “Russia offers ‘no strings attached’ investment for African countries that seem to be a win-win for both parties,” Ellis said, adding that she expects trade agreements and partnerships for energy, mining and defence to emerge from Sochi.
“While defence contracts have so far been Russia’s primary modus operandi in engaging with African governments, Russia will curry favor across Africa through more energy deals.”
Russia’s pivot to the Middle East in the political and business sphere has yielded more power to Putin and the President is now looking to forge closer ties with Africa.
“Moscow will try to make as much as hay as possible about its growing investments in the region at the Russia-Africa summit. It wants to present itself as influential in Africa, even if Russian engagement is relatively small compared to the United States, European Union, and China,” Judd Devermont, director of the Africa Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies said.
“Most deals will focus on security and energy sector, such as a recently signed nuclear power deal with Rwanda.” Russia’s influence in Africa during the Soviet Union/Cold War era was very strong but since then its influence has been on the wane, with China emerging as the dominant investor in the continent.