Japan offers billions to Africa Investment Conference

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‘Russia sets aside $1 billion to strengthen trade relations with Ghana’ – simply grabbed the headlines, but has serious implications for Russian diplomacy. The published article describes the bilateral relations as an “enduring partnership” between Russia and the Republic of Ghana. That was way back in January 2018 and it was widely publicized to show Russia’s economic presence in Africa. Getting acquainted with the participating dignitaries, including the Russian Ambassador Dmitry Suslov, inside the Russian diplomatic premises, this was most likely reflected in official documents of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation.

The Russian Federation has earmarked US$1 billion to help Russian companies wishing to invest in Ghana’s economy, as part of an initiative to reinvigorate the sixty-year-old diplomatic relations between the two countries which were strongest during Nkrumah’s time, according to archival research. .

In commemorating 60 years of diplomatic relations established with Ghana, and at the reception, the Chairman of the Ghana Russian Business Development Council, Dr. Lawrence Awuku-Boateng, explained that Ghanaian businessmen wishing to do business with Russia would be helped. The money would be disbursed through the Russian Export Center.

“I am happy to announce that the Russian government has decided to assist all Russian companies wishing to do business in Ghana, and Ghanaian companies wishing to do business with Russians should contact the embassy or the council for assistance. ‘Help,’ Awuku-Boateng told the gathering.

Ambassador Suslov took his turn and said his country was committed to building “enduring partnerships” with Ghana. “I see that Ghana is now attracting more Russian businesses due to its stable democracy, sustainable macroeconomic performance and advanced business infrastructure. Ghana’s importance to Russia as an anchor partner country in the West African region is somehow recognized and affirmed by the continued presence of Russian delegations in the country,” he said. he declares.

Likewise, different Russian companies rushed to invest. With its stated aim of creating developing economic cooperation, the Russian railway company, Geo Services, has declared that it is ready to invest more than US$12.5 billion in the revamping of Ghana’s railway network, a project that Ghanaian Prime Minister Nana Akufo-Addo has shown keen interest in achieving to boost the new transport network (railway infrastructure) and ultimately the economy.

CEO of Geo Services, Sergey Kamnev, led a delegation to attend the market sounding event organized by the Ministries of Railway Development and Transport, on the development of the railway line of the East and Boankra Inner Harbor Projects. The government was seeking to enter into a public-private partnership agreement for the two specific projects, for which an estimated amount of US$2.4 billion was required.

“With our own unofficial pre-feasibility, we assure you that we will give the best to Ghana. Given our record, even in the area of ​​fatalities within the industry, I can say that with over 100 years of experience in the rail industry around the world, we have recorded, I’m sure, fewer deaths,” said Sergey Kamnev at the event in Accra, Ghana.

“That said, if we are given the right to build the railway lines in Ghana, we will use Ghanaians to manufacture everything in Ghana, from executive wagons to bolts and knots. This will help us open at least 20 factories in the country,” he added.

The Eastern Railway line was to be completed by 2020. Railway Development Minister Joe Ghartey informed that the government has set 2020 as the deadline for the completion of the railway line project Eastern Iron. The project will accommodate high-speed trains that have a speed of over 500 km/h, making travel faster and easier.

“The government is ready and the feasibility is almost complete; that is why we are organizing this market sounding event which is a meeting with investors to share ideas on how to build a better railway network in Ghana. I ordered the project to be completed by 2020, using high-speed trains. Ghana deserves the best and we, as a government, are determined to commit ourselves for the best in this project for Ghana,” said Minister Joe Ghartey.

The market sounding conference was attended by investors interested in partnering with the government in the rehabilitation and expansion of the South Country Rail Network at Paga in the Upper East Region. Ghana’s currently operational railway network, which stretches for about 947 kilometers, is plagued with an outdated network and poor railway infrastructure, resulting in the closure of much of the Western and Eastern Lines and the entire Central Line. , resulting in a high incidence of derailments that result in lost operating hours and damage to rolling stock.

The overhaul of the railway sector was to be done alongside the construction of the Boankra inland port, strategically located near Kumasi, to facilitate the movement of goods to the north of the country and neighboring landlocked countries.

Perhaps the most important avenue outside of official interaction, and in order to strengthen relations between the two countries, the Russian Federation has endorsed the establishment of the Ghanaian-Russian Business Development Council to help link business , education and culture.

At the beginning of October 2021, within the framework of the official visit to Ghana, the Head of the Secretariat of the Russia-Africa Partnership Forum, Roving Ambassador Oleg Ozerov, took part in discussions between the Association for Economic Cooperation with African States ( AECAS) and the Ghana-Russia Business Development Council. According to reports, the ceremony was also attended by the current Ambassador of the Russian Federation to Ghana, Sergei Berdnikov.

The two parties signed a memorandum of understanding which stipulates the development and strengthening of bilateral cooperation. The objective is to promote the products and services of Russian companies on the African market, to share expertise and to exchange information in order to create favorable conditions for the development of Russian-Ghanaian relations.

On the other hand, critics say that Russian officials consider it inappropriate to deal with well-established agencies and organizations such as the Ghana Export Promotion Council, the Ghana Export Authority, the Center for Ghana Investment Promotion, Chamber of Commerce and Industry, etc. These business entities make the whole process of negotiation quite easy and convenient for the trading parties by liaising with other agencies to simplify documentation and import/export procedures as well as customs and shipping carriers. freight in the country.

Another important issue that critics highlighted in their discussions was the importance of the Permanent Joint Commission on Russia-Ghana Cooperation (PJCC) established several years ago to ensure and strengthen bilateral relations in the political, economic, commercial, technical and cultural between the two countries. countries. At least Russia and Ghana are looking forward to expanding trade and investment exchanges using the mechanism of the Intergovernmental Commission on Trade, Economic and Scientific and Technical Cooperation.

At the session of the Permanent Joint Commission on Russia-Ghana Cooperation (CCPJ) held in St. Petersburg in May, the foreign ministers of Russia and Ghana agreed to expedite work on the agreements and memoranda that will strengthen the legal framework for cooperation. Also agreed to encourage the business community, chambers of commerce and industry of the two countries to continue and intensify direct contacts and frequent interactions.

Our monitoring and interviews show that not everyone is very happy with the current approach to Africa. In an interview conducted by this author, Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, explicitly explains that “Russia and Ghana enjoy excellent diplomatic relations, which have developed over the years, precisely over 30 years. The Russian Federation began in 1991, after the collapse of the Soviet era. Although, for a relationship that has lasted this long, one might have expected it to grow beyond what it is now. In short, there is still room for improvement.

Despite the challenges and political shortcomings, Ghana is always open to all the support it can get from its external friends and development partners in the nation building campaign, especially in the context of of the nationwide industrialization program of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) administration. . Ghana could benefit a lot from the rich experiences of Russia, which has advanced knowledge, in the field of industrialization, she pointed out during the interview.

An undeniable and recognizable fact is that Russia plans to strengthen multifaceted relations with Africa. As a political report pointed out last November, Russia’s approach is virtually marked by a high degree of inconsistency and lacks effective systematic coordination on several important issues with Africa. The report highlights the short-sightedness and unwillingness to confront the rapidly changing political and economic realities in Africa.

According to this report, the number of high-level meetings has increased, but the share of substantive issues remains extremely minimal, and worse, there have so far been few definitive results of the unprecedented number of meetings. high-level officials. The report makes it clear that Russia’s possibilities are being overstated both publicly and in closed negotiations. He further points to the lack of “information hygiene” at all levels of public speaking among the major flaws of Russian policy in Africa.

Nevertheless, according to the assessment of the situation by political experts, Russia must gradually move towards new paradigms – first to move away from the most often stereotyped narratives, frequent criticisms from other key external actors. And second, to begin in earnest to implement, particularly in this crucial time of global geopolitical shifts and the emergence of a new order, some of its own decade-old commitments and promises, and to take concrete steps to fulfill those several bilateral agreements signed with individual African countries.

The report provides useful recommendations aimed at bridging the gap between mainstream policies, how to eliminate political pitfalls and turn a new page with a well-honed approach to Africa. The authoritative 150-page report, researched and prepared by 25 Russian political experts led by Professor Sergei Karaganov, currently Honorary Chairman of the Presidium of the Council for Foreign and Defense Policy. The report entitled – Analytical report of the situation – was presented publicly at the premises of the TASS Information news agency in November 2021.

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