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Russian Assistance to Africa

Vladimir A. Vasiliev, MP
State Duma Deputy, Russian Federation

Paper prepared for a conference on “Partnership Beyond 2005: The Role of Parliamentarians in Implementing NEPAD Commitments,” Sponsored by the Parliamentary Seminar on Africa, European Parliamentarians for Africa, the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (UK), the British group Inter-Parliamentary Union, the Africa All Party Parliamentary Group, the British Council and the Westminster Foundation for Democracy, The British Museum, London, England, 19-22 October, 2005. Version in Russian [PDF].

Russia has been actively taking part in the internationally agreed steps to assist Africa, including those within the G8 framework. Along with other G8 partners our country has been contributing to the implementation of NEPAD goals, 2002 Kananaskis G8 Action Plan for Africa, and similar G8 decisions in Evian, Sea Island and Gleneagles.

About 220 Russian peacekeeping staff are deployed in UN operations in Africa. Along with that we have many times expressed our willingness to contribute to African states' own anti-crisis capabilities. Russia is training African peacekeepers. On the basis of a bilateral protocol Russia has trained 10 peacekeepers from Nigeria since April 2002. Four Rwandans were trained at the UN Military Observer Courses in 2003.

Assistance to African states is rendered in the form of training national humanitarian and rescue staff. Between May 1996 and October 2001 the Kavumu Polytechnic Centre (Rwanda), for which EMERCOM (The Ministry for Emergencies of Russia) committed over $1m in 1996-2000, trained over 1200 drivers and mechanics and formed the first search and rescue unit in the country. In 2001 the Centre was handed over to Rwanda. In 2003 a shipment of automotive spare parts was sent to the Centre.

An important line to our assistance to Africa is within the HIPC Initiative. As of today Russia has written off or committed to write off $11.3bn of African debt, including the $2.2bn within the HIPC Initiative. The HIPC Trust Fund received the additional Russian contribution of $10m in 2003-4. in 2005-6 another additional contribution will be made in the amount of $15m ($5m have already been transferred and another 5 will be before the end of the year). Russia is working on the total write-off for the HIPC countries, not subject to the ODA criteria. If approved, the move will bring the total Russia debt cancellation for HIPC to $750 m.

Russia has committed to the 14th round of pledging to IDA for 2006-2014 with about $60m. The share of Sub-Saharan countries will be around 49 per cent of the amount.

Broad trade favours have been given to the countries of the continent. The Russian legislation provides for the traditional exports of the least developed countries, including African countries, to be exempt from import duties. These goods are also exempt from quantitative limitations on imports, as well as anti-dumping, countervailing and special protective measures. The preferential regime covers most of Russia's imports from Africa. 2005 saw the Russian scheme of preferences harmonised with the UN Classification of Least Developed Countries to include Angola, Senegal and Eritrea.

Cooperation is continuing in the high technology sector (with the SAR in nuclear energy, astrophysics, research and peaceful use of space; joint aircraft building venture with Egypt).

Russia has been giving significant assistance to African states in the form of staff training. Over 700 federal budget scholarships are allocated annually. A new form of cooperation is creating joint educational establishments. Plans to open the Russian-Egypt University in Cairo are in the pipeline.

Russia is involved in financing the IMF AFRITAC programme (regional technical assistance centres) aimed at strengthening the personnel and organisational capabilities of African countries. In 2003-5 $250,000 have been committed to it.

We give assistance in health care. Based on an earlier decision to contribute $20m to the GFATM in 2002-2006, around $13,75m have been transferred so far. Another decision has been taken to earmark another $20m for the 2005-8 contribution. In May 2005 we completed transferring the designated $8m to the World Initiative to Liquidate Polio. Russian medical staff work in some African countries on the strength of intergovernmental agreements.

Russia is giving targeted humanitarian aid for emergency relief. In April 2002 $7.6m were given to Algeria, $5.3m to Ethiopia and Eritrea in February 2003, Roubles 5.6m and $479,000 to Morocco in May 2004. As part of the UN World Food Program, Russia voluntarily committed $1m to Angola as emergency aid in 2003. The decision has been taken to start regular contributions to the UN WFP since 2005.

In 2003 Russia voluntarily contributed $2m to the budget the UNHCR to finance humanitarian operation in Africa.

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