I do not address anyone in my opening remarks, as a rule, but I would like to make it official this time. You are holding a revived and, hopefully, useful product, which is bound to offer a platform for development of Russian-African business relations.
Our relations with Africa are in need of profound restoration. The term ‘return’ is often used to describe the situation, but it would be more appropriate to speak about ‘restoration’ of the positions, which have been lost to a great extent. A fresh strategy for developing business relations, which would lay down definitively formulated and proclaimed principles of a common approach of Russian companies to the African market as a reliable business partner, should be built on a solid and historical foundation of friendship, mutual assistance and confidence. The interaction horizon should be broadened to the utmost, Russian-African compliance should be created for the precise consolidation of mutual interests of Russia and Africa, joint strategic initiatives should be put forward, and action should begin in priority areas.
The world is getting ready for a brand new order and a different mosaic of relationships. It is a task of the state to put together a puzzle, in which even the polar pieces will see eye-to-eye and maintain similar views, approaches and basic geopolitical strategies. Today’s political paradigm is seeking assistance of business relations, which can transport our mind from the empirical plane to the functional and practical area and give an opportunity to implement new progressive ideas, models and formats required by the present-day reality. The sky is the limit.
There is no point in looking back at the missed opportunities. Given the relatively liberal investment climate and the relative absence of bureaucracy, Africa has long become a major investment platform for many countries: China, India, the United States, Australia, and European states are stepping up trade with the continent. The GDP of African countries remains relatively stable by most indicators, compared to other economies of the world, or even grows. Africa is becoming the world’s first by the number of young working age citizens – the main consumers of goods and services and the principal actors of the modern information space.
- Africa has long been a major investment platform for many countries
I suggest that we look at the future, having analyzed the current state of affairs and our position. It does not matter what we have not done, yet it is important what we want to do, what we can do, and what we are prepared to do. The restoration process will take a profound and systemic work in many areas. We need to answer the main question as to what modern Russia’s interests on the African continent are and how these interests correlate to the interests of our African partners. From the angle of this synergy, we should decide which long-term strategy would be the most efficient in the pursuit of those interests. We should remember that life marches on and that we have grown up and changed. In fact, everything has changed: views, the outlook, technologies and relations. The point of view and the prism through which particular processes are considered have gone beyond the traditional perception of economic, political and social phenomena. Yet the principles of diplomacy, protection of citizens’ interests, assistance, and fostering of peace, wellbeing and security of nations are unwavering. The cause based on mutual respect and human values is destined to succeed. As Marina Tsevaeva once said, “To succeed means to be there in time.”
Let us not waste time!