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Russia exporting more food than weapons to Africa - Putin

Russia President Vladimir Putin has said contrary to popular thought, Russia is exporting more food to Africa than weapons.

In his plenary speech at the Russia-Africa Economic Forum in Sochi, Putin said Russia exported food products worth $25 billion in sales compared to $15 billion in weapons. The two-day Russia-Africa Economic Forum opened yesterday and attracted more than 40 African presidents and leaders. 

Below is Putin's full speech

Mr President, heads of state and heads of government of the African countries, friends, ladies and gentlemen, I would like to offer my heartfelt greetings to all of you, participants and guests of the Russia−Africa Economic Forum timed to coincide with the first-ever summit of Russia and African states.

All countries of the African continent are represented here today, by top officials, politicians and, of course, business leaders. Top managers of almost 2,000 Russian and foreign companies are taking part in this forum. The topic of this plenary session, Russia and Africa: Uncovering the Potential for Cooperation, is extremely important and relevant.

Economic issues are an integral part and an actual priority of Russia’s relations with the African countries. Developing close business ties serves our common interests, contributes to the sustainable growth of all our countries, helps to improve quality of life and solve numerous social problems.

A lot of effort went into the preparations for this forum. Multiple events on specific fields of Russian-African cooperation have been held over the past year. They include an economic conference and a meeting of the African Export-Import Bank Board of Directors in Moscow last June.

The programme of the St Petersburg International Economic Forum included a special session on advancing cooperation with the African continent. There have been many other themed exhibitions, seminars, Russian-African business mission exchanges, in-depth and engaged discussions of prospective joint projects in trade, investment and industry-specific programmes.

To reiterate, African countries are becoming increasingly attractive for Russian businesses. This is largely due to the fact that Africa is becoming a global economic growth centre. According to experts, Africa’s GDP will have reached $29 trillion by 2050.

Russia-Africa trade more than doubled over the past five years and exceeded, as our colleague just said, $20 billion. Is that a lot or a little? A colleague of ours said this is a good figure. I cannot agree with this.

I think it is way too little. After all, ladies and gentlemen, keep in mind that Egypt accounts for $7.7 billion, or 40 per cent, of these $20 billion. We have many potential partners in Africa, lots of them. They have good development prospects and enormous growth potential. Of course, this is not enough.

Notably, the product range of counter trading is expanding, and the share of non-resource – agricultural and industrial – products is increasing. Russia is among the top ten suppliers of food to the African market. We are now exporting more agricultural products than weapons to the markets of third countries.

Weapons account for $15 billion of our exports, whereas agricultural products are nearing $25 billion in sales, I believe. So, the potential for development is good here, too, and there are things to discuss.

We hope that taking all this together will continue to push the trade numbers up, and, I believe, we can easily at least double the volume of trade within the next four to five years.

Integration processes unfolding in Africa provide additional opportunities for cooperation. We welcome the creation of the African Continental Free Trade Area as part of the African Union and are willing to work with this new entity.

We support establishing close working contacts between the AU Commission and the Eurasian Economic Commission, which will sign a memorandum of understanding tomorrow. As an active participant in the EAEU, Russia will do its best to facilitate the convergence of trade regimes in the African Free Trade Area and the EAEU common market.

Notably, bilateral intergovernmental commissions and business councils established with many African countries work energetically on the economic agenda of Russia-Africa ties. Russia plans to expand its trade mission network, to support businesses and to establish new contacts.

The Coordinating Committee for Economic Cooperation with Sub-Saharan Africa created under the auspices of the Russian Chamber of Commerce and Industry has a good track record. This committee assists Russian entrepreneurs in accessing the African markets and helps businesses implement joint investment projects.

Many Russian companies have for a long time and successfully worked with their partners from various sectors of the African economy and are determined to increase their presence in Africa. We will support such plans at the state level.

Gazprom, Rosneft, and LUKOIL are implementing promising oil and gas projects on that continent. Alrosa is developing diamond deposits, Yandex is present on the markets of a number of countries, and helps African states address information security challenges and develop the digital economy. Rosatom is willing to build the nuclear industry for its African partners as a turnkey project and to build research centres based on multipurpose reactors.

The construction of the Russian Industrial Zone in Egypt is nearing completion. This is a major site in the Suez Canal Economic Zone, where Russian companies will be able to localise their production facilities. About 20 Russian companies will participate in this project. This is the current estimation and I am quite certain there will be more of them.


Russia provides systematic assistance to developing the African continent. We provide trade preferences and cooperate within international organisations, such as the World Food Programme, the International Civil Defence Organisation and the World Health Organisation.

Our country is participating in an initiative to ease the African countries’ debt burden. To date, the total amount of write-offs stands at over $20 billion. Joint programmes have been launched with a number of countries involving the use of debt to finance national economic growth projects.

We have developed cooperation in the fight against dangerous infectious diseases. In particular, a Russian research centre of epidemiology has been established in Guinea. (Applause.) Yes, it is a very good project; it turned out to be very effective. Our country was one of the first to respond to the Ebola epidemic by allocating over $60 billion for fighting it. It should be said that the vaccine is very effective. I believe it is the best in the world.

Training of skilled personnel is a traditional sphere of Russian-African cooperation. By the mid-1980s, we had built about a hundred educational establishments in Africa and half a million Africans have been trained for work at industrial companies and agricultural facilities in African countries. Currently, 17,000 Africans are studying here in Russia, including some 4,000 who are on federal scholarships.

Friends and colleagues,

This forum has a packed business programme. After President el-Sisi and I complete our speeches, the participants in this plenary session will be introduced to practical ideas and proposals in the promising spheres of Russian-African cooperation. The heads of Russian companies and the Economic Development Ministry have prepared presentations for the key Russian competencies, which open up new opportunities for our economic cooperation with Africa.

It is notable that numerous specific sessions will be held during the forum, in particular in the field of oil, gas and nuclear energy, mineral production, agriculture and high technology. You will have an opportunity to discuss concrete spheres of cooperation and coordinate agreements on mutually beneficial joint projects.

I am absolutely certain that this forum will give a fresh impetus to the further development of the entire range of trade and economic cooperation between Russia and its African friends. I wish all of you taking part in this forum every success and all the very best. We are grateful that you decided to come to Russia.

Thank you.


+1 #1 Lakwena 2019-10-24 12:46
In other words, to Putin Vodka (Waragi) is food (food for thought).

For me Putin is a cold character like the enigmas, indestructible lead-made character facing off with Arnold Schwarzenegger in the Terminator 2 " Judgement Day"

Like in the Orwellian Animal Farm, who in his/her rightful mind will believe in Putin (Russia), whose 102-year domestic and foreign policies only have propaganda value?
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0 #2 kabayekka 2019-10-24 16:31
Indeed that is very helpful of Russia. Because Tropical Africa with its Agricultural policy of food production, underfunded, many Africans eat only one meal a day.

And there are constant warfare over democratic elections to win power at any cost. For Russia to sell to Africa expensive war armament, would only lead the continent to destruction.
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0 #3 Akot 2019-10-24 19:53
Lakwena, thanks!

Even Russians must now know Putin continuing in power will only make it worse for them to have a start after him!

A real leader would never stay in power for so long & believe he loves his country/people, when they are made to believe it's just that leader, who can rule!

What lessons can African so called leaders learn from Putin so thirsty with power?

Russians are alcoholics, drug adicts to forget their miseries, but of course Putin doesn't see this & he gives moral lessons to European leaders who ensure social/public services to their people, the reason migrants/refugees die crossing seas to reach Europe!

Is Russia suffocating with results of bad rule any where that is flooding their country with migrants/refugees, as Europe/USA are?
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+2 #4 rubangakene 2019-10-24 21:44
I have been living on millet and other food grown in Uganda.

Is it a "miracle" that I haven't come across any 'food Made in Russia"?

Please help me out here, may be our MPs are eating that food; no wonder we are not getting any work done by these lot!
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0 #5 Lakwena 2019-10-25 08:00
Quoting rubangakene:
I have been living on millet and other food grown in

Is it a "miracle" that I haven't come across any 'food Made in Russia"?

Please help me out here, may be our MPs are eating that food; no wonder we are not getting any work done by these lot!

Rubangakene, maybe Russia is exporting rare food like lakililkili, which is why you haven't seen or tasted one.
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0 #6 Kirwana-Kibuuka 2019-10-25 08:06
I see more AK not Lada, on African Streets, then we consume our matooke.
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0 #7 Francis Okello 2019-10-25 11:11
To make the picture meaningful, what did Russia import from Africa and what was the $$ amount of those imports.

That way, we can assess the fairness of the trade between Africa and Russia. I also hope that Russia is not seeking to use Africa to fight its superpower battles.
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-1 #8 Lysol 2019-10-25 20:39
Russian food produce is of very low quality. Many Russian stave and live on potatoes/ barley black bread and red cabbage soup.

The weapons are of course of low grades which can malfunction in any serious combat mission. Kind of like scarecrows to intimidate, like most African militaries.
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0 #9 Zaitun 2019-10-27 10:31
It is not the responsibility of Russian govt to feed Africans, but since African dictators have become so complecent with their citizens, it is therefore out of pity that Russia has decided to export food to meet the demands of Africans.

If you have a lazy father like our old man who would not even want to hear of development, leave alone growing flowers and leaves to meet western appetites, then Russia will continue sending her food stuff to feed you with.

I did not at one point hear of those "Anyanya leaders" importing food from Russia.
We are completely doomed with these refugee leaders who only oppress Ugandans to steal their wealth.
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-1 #10 Wainanchi 2019-10-28 09:13
Good Maaan President Putin!

Protect African governments from mighty Western powers which are attacking and neocolonising weak States!! Do you see good son of Russia that the United Nations and its sitting presidents like this one Guteresh, are just siiting and keeping quiet while the world is on fire!!

What are they doing in New York when you never see any action on part of the United Nations!!!

All power rests in the hands of Big States with big guns who terrorise small nations.And now I read some of the thugs who object Russia!! Are you joking lads?? Hahahahaha
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