President Vladimir Putin has said Russia has written off $20 billion of the Africa’s debts and will double university scholarships for Africans.
The President also said Russia’s supply food to African countries in need would continue, even if the Black Sea Grain Deal is not extended after 60 days.
President Putin spoke at the Second Russia-Africa International Parliamentary Conference in Moscow under the auspices of the State Duma of the Russian Federal Assembly.
Speaking before the Russia-Africa Forum in Sochi in 2019. Putin announced that Moscow had written off more than $20 billion in debt accumulated by African countries during the Soviet era. This he said, was not only an act of generosity but also a manifestation of pragmatism, because many of the African states were not able to pay interest on the loans.
In his speech on Monday, Putin said the parliamentary conference was important in the context of the “continued development of Russia’s multifaceted cooperation” with African countries.
“We also consider this event a key part of the preparations for the upcoming second Russia-Africa summit scheduled to be held in St Petersburg in July,” Putin said.
He said the first Russian-African summit in October 2019 in Sochi was productive and noticeably invigorated ties with African states, gave a boost to business interaction and cultural and humanitarian exchanges.
“The partnership between Russia and African countries has gained additional momentum and is reaching a whole new level,” said.
“I want to emphasise that our country has always and will always consider cooperation with African states a priority. It would not be an exaggeration to say that it is one of the unchanging priorities of Russia’s foreign policy”.
Ahead and during the meeting Chairman of the State Duma (Speaker) Vyacheslav Volodin held various bilateral talks with visiting African counterparts.
On March 17, Volodin held talks with South African National Assembly Speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula.
Nosiviwe said it was important for South Africa that Russia gives priority to the African continent.
“Many countries consider Africa as a great possibility to get African resources. But taking into account the history of our cooperation, we, like many other African countries, believe that Russia has other, more genuine interests in Africa,” she said. South Africa has close relations with Russia, and has avoided to critise its invasion of Ukraine, instead blaming the west for the war.
Volodin said that Russia “has never had and does not have mercantile interests in relations with African countries.”
“The policy of our state, pursued by the President and members of Parliament, despite our different party membership, is aimed at building a multipolar, just world. There is such a possibility. And we should join our efforts to do everything to ensure that all states will have the right to develop on the basis of their culture and traditions, preserving their language and history,” he added.
Volodin also met with Zimbabwe Speaker Jacob Mudenda, Congo’s Pierre Ngolo, CAR’s Simplice Mathieu Sarandji, President of the National Transitional Council of the Republic of Mali Malick Diaw and President of the Transitional Legislative Assembly of the Republic of Burkina Faso Ousmane Bougouma.
More than 40 delegations from African countries took part in the parliamentary conference under the sponsorship of the State Duma.