Why Russia should expand exports to Nigeria
African countries are one of the priorities of Russian foreign policy today. The fastest growing region in the world can become our important trading partner. Increasing imports here is beneficial for both sides, besides, our country and the continent are connected by a history of long-term relations. The rapidly developing geopolitical rapprochement says a lot about the prospects for further cooperation, market expert Natalia Pchelkina notes. In the author's column for Realnoe Vremya, the analyst discusses new contracts between Russian and African businesses.
Centre of attraction
Political scientists and economists agree that now a new principle of interaction between countries is brewing in history. Based on balance and polycentricity, it will give all states the opportunity to build their trade relations with benefits.
The main principle of Moscow is a mutually beneficial interstate partnership, which will allow all participants in trade relations to receive benefits and resources for growth. This is especially important for countries with underdeveloped economies, which, thanks to new contracts, can get an impetus to a new stage of development.
Under the conditions of sanctions and the de facto economic blockade of Russia, it is in relations with African countries that our country can succeed. And this will be a fundamentally different level of friendship, not like in Soviet times, when huge funds were invested in the development of the socialist orientation of African countries. First and most importantly, Moscow does not divide the continent into those with whom it is possible to be friends, and with whom it is not. The macro-region is perceived as an integral union, which is what most countries of the continent strive for, and relations presuppose an equal partnership, Russia does not try to play on the complexities of relations within the region and does not unleash a conflict between the “north” and “south” of the continent.
Benefits for Russian businesses
Firstly, Africa is certainly one of the most promising markets for Russian exports. Everything is needed here: goods, services, food, high technology, pharmaceuticals.
More than 30% of Russian grain exports are exported to Africa. Various fats and oils are on the second place. They are followed by the products of the automotive industry and optics of motor transport, optical devices, printed products.
Secondly, according to sociological forecasts, Africa is the fastest growing macro-region of the Earth, and by the middle of this century it is going to surpass China and India in terms of population.
Certainly, the low professional training of personnel is problematic for businesses, however, this can also be regarded as a window of opportunity, for example, if you provide educational services. Or if you supply agricultural machinery, you can additionally organise training courses to work with it.
It is important for the continent to increase the pace of infrastructure development, energy, digitalisation (including at the state level) and the development of agriculture, which is now being centralised around cattle breeding and cocoa cultivation. And each of these areas welcome Russian businesses and Russian investments.
Russia-Africa Summit 2022
Moscow faces quite serious tasks in the run-up to the second summit between Russia and Africa. A similar summit between the EU and the AU, which took place at the beginning of this February, clearly showed that the West will continue its attempts to increase influence in the region. Our country now needs to develop and coordinate with the African Union a strategy for the development of relations.
Moreover, the strategic plan should include three directions at once:
- Positioning cooperation with the region as a single centre of the African Union, including in terms of developing mechanisms for interaction between state authorities.
- Development of projects to stimulate trade and economic relations, including state support for Russian businesses when entering the African market.
- Increasing the presence of Russian business in most countries of the continent.
In the long term, experts say, it is advantageous for Russia to focus on the export of agricultural products and agricultural machinery, products of the engineering industry and coal. It is important to increase cooperation in the field of education and medicine, it is advantageous to think about the exit of the African market and domestic producers who belong to small and medium-sized businesses. An increase in trade turnover will automatically entail the development of even a small production. But if large holdings and companies with a share of state capital themselves can establish cooperation, then small players can provide significant assistance at the stage of entering a new market, for example, trade representative offices. A service centre of the Russian company Metalwork will open in Nigeria soon, which will assist domestic entrepreneurs in exporting machine tools and equipment to the continent.
The author's opinion may not coincide with the position of the editorial board of Realnoe Vremya.