By Sarah Munthali in Sochi Russia
African Union chairperson Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi has asked Russian and international firms to invest in Africa saying countries were already creating an enabling environment for international investments.
“African countries are putting infrastructure development and promoting economic integration at the forefront of joint cooperation with other countries,” Sisi said.
President Sisi was speaking Wednesday in the resort city of Sochi, Russia during the opening of the first-ever Russia-Africa Summit which he co-chaired with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The summit, which ran to Thursday, attracted more than 40 African heads of state and government including Malawi’s President Arthur Peter Mutharika.
Sisi urged African leaders to improve business climate, promote private-public partnership and unite to achieve peace, stability, economic growth and development of the continent.
The Egyptian President also urged regional and international funding bodies to back development efforts in the continent by offering special conditions and powerful incentives to projects and development programmes.
Also attended by representatives of international business bodies, the forum is expected to open up commercial and investment opportunities and help develop economic ties between African countries and Russia.
Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) executive secretary Stergomena Lawrence Tax said the region values Russia as a key partner in infrastructural development in the region.
“We welcome Russia’s investment in our region; we hope this will help in the transformation of social-economic development in our countries,” she said.
Tax asked for an increase in exports between the countries in the SADC region and Russia.
Besides boosting political and economic cooperation, the summit was planned to lay out measures to fight terrorism, cross-border crime, and threats to regional and global security.
Speaking when he opened the summit, Putin pledged different forms of support to African countries.
He told the African leaders that, currently, Russia exports to Africa US$25 billion (over MK18 trillion) worth of food.
“This is more than what the country exports in arms which is US$15 billion [about MK11 trillion].
“In the next four to five years, we should be able to double this trade,” Putin said. President Mutharika is accompanied by Minister of Finance Joseph Mwanamvekha, Minister of Foreign affairs Francis Kasaila and Minister of Trade Salim Bagus.