Trade between Africa and Russia has doubled in the years since the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank), started engaging with the Russian Export Centre, to promote trade between the two countries, Bank President Prof. Benedict Oramah, said yesterday.
Speaking at the opening of the Russia-Africa Economic Forum, organised as part of the first-ever, Russia-Africa Summit, in Sochi, Russia, Oramah told heads of state from about 50 African countries and Russia and other participants that annual trade between Africa and Russia now stood at about $20 billion against $10 billion in the past.
He announced that Afreximbank and the Russian Export Centre had committed to act to achieve another doubling of the trade volume in next two years.
Afreximbank would offer guarantees and other programmes to address certain risk perceptions and increase trade, Oramah assured.
The Bank is also working with the Russian Export Centre to create a trade information portal that will provide information to businesses to facilitate trade between the two sides.
He welcomed the holding of the Russia-Africa Economic Forum, saying the event was an opportunity for Africa to find new partners who would support the continent in dealing with some of the challenges confronting it.
In his opening address, Russian President Vladimir Putin, said Africa had become increasingly attractive to Russian businesses, as many of the countries had become centres of economic growth.
He announced that Russia had recently written off $20 billion of debt owed by African countries, saying that funds from those debts were being used to set up special programmes to support Africa’s economic development.
Putin added that the Russian Federation would work with Africa to support the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area agreement, in particular by supporting collaboration with the Eurasian Economic Union.
In his own contribution, President of Egypt and current Chairman of the African Union, Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, said Africa has embarked on a new phase of economic development that had seen it implementing social and economic reforms, and making strong efforts at regional and continental integration.
Consequently, the continent welcomed cooperation with partners and was inviting such partners to increase their investments and financial commitments in the continent, he said.
According to President Al-Sisi, such cooperation must be based on mutual interest and the protection of African property in order to ensure sustainable economic development.
The two-day Russia-Africa Economic Forum is being co-organised by the Russian Federation, through the Roscongress Foundation, and the Russian Export Centre, and Afreximbank.
It is aimed at providing a platform for African and Russian businesses to connect in order to promote increased trade between Africa and Russia.