The battle for Africa’s soul has moved to Russia.
The hitherto sleeping giant as been jolted from its stupor, particularly by the aggression of next-door neighbours the Chinese, who have in the past decade strived to neutralise the West’s grip on Africa with unconditional financial and resource support.
Some 3,000 delegates, among them at least 35 African heads of state and government, are attending a two-day conference in Russia that is expected to revitalise Moscow’s clout on Africa.
The first Russia-Africa Summit began on Wednesday with a session dedicated to private investors and policymakers.
Russia is all out to lift its business dealings in Africa, abandoning its traditional Cold War-era support for liberation movements, its key identity then as the Soviet Union.
And on Thursday, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin officially opened the talks on the viability of investments in Africa.
Numerous deals, bilateral and multilateral, are expected to be struck in the Russian resort city of Sochi, particularly in energy, infrastructure and security sectors.
The icing on the cake is President Putin’s solemn promise to give Africa a free will, Chinese style, as opposed to the Western model of aid with conditionalities.
African states are sovereign entities that should not be dictated to by development partners.
But on external support, African leaders have more often than not left the general populace with the wrong end of the stick.
They have taken funds from all sources but directed them to non-priority projects riddled with corruption, literally condemning generations to modern-day colonisation.
At least 13 African states are debt-stressed, mostly due to Chinese ‘generosity’.
The former superpower should give Africa reasonable conditions that ensure that its support to the continent serves the common good and not the short-term interests of the leaders.
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