RUSSIAN President Vladimir Putin has pledged to train more African military personnel and law enforcement officers.
Opening the Russia-Africa Summit in Sochi on Thursday, Putin said the programme was aimed at strengthening African armed forces.
About 54 African leaders and representatives gathered for the summit in the Russian city on the Black Sea to forge and cement relations between one of the world’s superpowers and Africa.
“We are determined to continue training military personnel and law enforcement officers for African countries at specialised Russian institutions. Today, military personnel from 20 African countries are studying at higher education institutions of the Russian defence ministry,” he said.
“Our military and military technical cooperation is aimed at strengthening African armed forces’ combat capability. Russia has MTC agreements with over 30 countries, which we supply with a wide range of armaments and equipment. Part of these supplies are provided free of charge. Our African partners participate actively in Russia’s military forums and exercises, where they can see samples of up-to-date weapons and military equipment, and learn how it is used. Last year, 11 African countries took part in the 2019 International Army Games. The number of those who want to join is growing.”
President Putin emphasised the need for concerted effort in fighting terrorism.
He said a lot of African countries remained unstable due to terrorism.
“Terrorism, the spread of extremist ideology, transnational crime and piracy hamper the development of the African continent. Many countries face the consequences of the so-called Arab Spring, which has destabilised the situation in the whole of North Africa. Numerous terrorist organisations, including ISIS, al-Qaeda, Boko Haram and Al-Shabaab, operate in this region, as well as in the Sahara-Sahel area, in the vicinity of Lake Chad and in the Horn of Africa,” President Putin observed.
“In this connection, we consider it important to expand joint efforts for combating terrorism and extremism. We are planning to invigorate contacts between law enforcement agencies and security services of the Russian Federation and African countries, to coordinate efforts and exchange relevant information.”
He called for expanded areas of cooperation between Russian and African states.
“We believe that trade, economic and investment cooperation is an important element in Russia’s relations with African countries. Last year, Russia’s trade with Africa amounted to over $20 billion. Moreover, it doubled over the past five years,” President Putin said.
“Russian exports are gradually becoming diversified, and their structure is changing towards non-resource deliveries. Russian companies have worked successfully in the region for a long time, mostly, of course, in such areas as geological exploration, mineral extraction, energy, oil and gas. At the same time, steps are taken to establish cooperation in high technology.”
And President Putin has promised to continue supporting Africans in various areas of education.
“Let me repeat that education and training are also an important area of cooperation. At present, over 17,000 Africans are studying in Russia. The annual quota for state-financed openings at Russian universities is almost 2,000. We will think on how we can increase this number,” said President Putin.
“Prospects for interaction in medicine and healthcare are also good. The Republic of Guinea, for instance, has a successful research centre for epidemiology and the prevention of dangerous infectious diseases. We believe the creation of another such centre in Africa should be considered.”