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Friday, 25 October 2019

Why Russia is so interested in Nigeria all of a sudden



Russia is all over Nigeria at the moment. 

The east European nation has just donated 12 Mi-35 attack helicopters to Nigeria after bilateral talks between President Muhammadu Buhari and President Vladmir Putin in the southern Russian city of Sochi.
Russia has also promised to fix a portion of Nigeria’s rail, revive moribund refineries and restart the decaying Ajaokuta steel company, among other interventions.
Which begs the question: why is Russia doing all of this and why now? What does Russia really want from Nigeria? 
Let’s walk you through some of the 'whys' and 'hows' in this piece.

Russia and waning superpower status

This month, African leaders converged on Russia for the first Russia-Africa summit because Russia desperately wants a chunk of the African market. 
Russia has been watching jealously from outside as the US and China corner a chunk of the Nigerian and African markets for themselves.
You see, Russia used to be a world super power like the United States and China. However, after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Russia’s powers on a global scale began to wane. 
Reuters writes that the Russia-Africa summit is essentially “part of a Kremlin drive to win business and restore influence that faded after the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union, which backed leftist governments and movements across the continent throughout the Cold War.”

Africa without Russia

Even though Russia has made so much money from selling arms to African countries, Moscow still lags far behind competitors in trade with Africa.
Russia says its trade with African countries rose to $20 billion in 2018.
However, Russia still does not rank among Africa’s top five largest partners for trade in goods, according to data from Eurostat.
The Eurostat data has the following blocs or nations topping the list of international trade with Africa, in that order-- European Union, China, India, the United States and the United Arab Emirates.
The prize for Russia in Africa is greater political clout on a continent with 54 United Nations member states, vast mineral wealth and potentially lucrative markets for Russian-manufactured weapons, writes Reuters. 
Addressing dozens of African heads of state at the two-day summit, Putin said he wants Russia’s trade with African countries to double over the next four to five years.
He also said Moscow has written off African debts to the tune of over $20 billion.

Coming to Nigeria

Russia is interested in a 200-million Nigerian market that has been dominated by the United States and China for far too long.
To ignore Nigeria is to ignore doing business with the African continent, given the country's sheer size and population.
At stake in Nigeria are untapped oil and gas reserves, mineral and human resources and agriculture proceeds. Russia certainly wants a piece of the pie and has entered agreements with Nigeria this week to make that possible.
We can do a lot together,” Russia President Putin told President Buhari in Sochi. 
To prove how serious he is about doing business with Nigeria, Putin has agreed to supply 12 Mi-35 attack helicopters to Nigeria in its war against insurgents, like we stated earlier.

Like Nigeria, like South Africa

Russia’s largest lender, Sberbank, and its state financial institutions have also agreed to support trade between Russia and African countries with an agreement worth $5 billion.
In an apparent show of force and to prove to the US that it is wielding its influence across the African continent, two nuclear-capable bombers landed in South Africa on a training mission on Wednesday, October 23. 
The South African National Defense Force lauded the move as a sign of strong diplomatic ties between the countries.
For Africa, this appears to be an era of ‘From Russia with love.'

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