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Nigeria signals increased cooperation with Russia – why it should be mindful

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Nigeria signals increased cooperation with Russia – why it should be mindful

Gabriel Aduda, the Permanent Secretary in charge of political and economic affairs at the Nigeria Cabinet Office (Secretary General of the Federation) has called for deeper Russia ties with Africa. Speaking at the Africa Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) Annual Meetings (AAM2019) in Russia, Aduda recalled Russia as an ally (together with Nigeria) in South Africa’s anti-apartheid struggle.

Why it matters: Russia is already making a renewed (controversial) push into Africa. Since Russian President Vladmir Putin announced the idea of a Russian-Africa Summit at the July 2018 BRICS Summit in South Africa, there has been increased media attention into the country’s activities on the African continent.

  • Already the Russian Federation’s trade with Africa has more than doubled within the last decade. Afreximbank reports that the numbers increased from $1.6 billion in 2010 to $4.2 billion in 2017.
  • Furthermore, per Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, “Russia is building a long term relationship with Africa and has become a shareholder in Afreximbank.”

One key concern over Russia’s involvement on the continent is their meddlesomeness with countries’ internal affairs. BBC reported on Russian election meddling in Madagascar A local newspaper, Daily Maverick reported a similar attempt by Russia to sway South Africa’s election in favour of the ruling ANC party.

  • It is clear that Moscow is keen to shore up its struggling economy by securing key energy resources and infrastructural projects in Africa. Per Bloomberg reporting, the country has successfully secured new deals in Egypt ($25 billion loan for Nuclear Plant) and in Zimbabwe ($3 billion platinum mining project).
  • The Russian military is also defending the government in Central African Republic where it has secured gold and diamond concessions.

PS: Three Russian journalists trying to investigate the country’s dealings in CAR were murdered.

In Nigeria, Russia looks to build two nuclear plants beginning next year. This is based on an  agreement (worth $20bn) between Russia’s State Atomic Energy Corporation (Rosatom) and Nigeria. It is unclear if this agreement will go into effect. However, it appears that Moscow has no solid plans for Nigeria in spite of its significant oil and gas, mining and security interests in the country.

Go deeper: Leaked documents reveal Russian effort to exert influence in Africa.

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