President Cyril Ramaphosa will this week lead the South African delegation to the first Russia-Africa Summit taking place in Sochi, in Russia.
The forum, which will take place on Wednesday and Thursday, will focus on key areas of cooperation between Russia and African countries.
“The summit is expected to deepen friendly relations between the Russian Federation and countries of the African continent at both bilateral and multilateral levels; forge closer collaboration on regional and international issues of common interest…” the Presidency said in a statement on Sunday.
The summit is also expected to raise strategic dialogue between Russia and African countries to a qualitatively higher level and contribute to peace, security and sustainable development on the African continent.
The discussions will be framed by three thematic pillars, namely: Forging Economic Ties, Creating Joint Projects and Collaborating in the Humanitarian and Social Sector.
The Russia-Africa Summit will also contribute towards the overall objective of addressing the aspirations of African countries as encapsulated in Agenda 2063.
“As the continental development blueprint, Agenda 2063 calls for a people-centred developmental process that ensures, inter alia, economic diversification and growth in order to eradicate poverty, unemployment and inequality.
“The participation of South Africa at this inaugural summit is in line with the South African foreign policy pillar of encouraging South-North Cooperation in various technical fields, as well as promoting economic development,” the Presidency said.
It said bilateral relations between South Africa and Russia are at an optimal level and continue to grow from strength to strength.
Diplomatic relations were established between South Africa and Russia on 28 February 1992.
Russia, a strategic partner to SA
According to the Presidency, Russia is a Strategic Partner for South Africa in terms of the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership Agreement that was signed in eThekwini in 2013.
“One of the primary mechanisms for improving the bilateral relationship between the two countries and advancing South Africa’s development objectives is the Intergovernmental Committee on Trade and Economic Cooperation (ITEC).
“The ITEC is the foundation for mutually beneficial trade and economic ties between the two countries. Further substance was added to the growing relationship through the South Africa–Russia Friendship and Cooperation Agreement which was ratified in 2008,” the Presidency said.
This agreement provides a framework for deepening the strategic partnership.
More than 38 bilateral agreements and/or memoranda of understanding that have been concluded, underpin the strategic nature of the relationship.
“This has also manifested in both countries consistently adopting common positions around key issues facing the world at the United Nations, African Union and other international forums. Relations between the two countries were further bolstered by the meeting between [President] Ramaphosa and Russian President Vladimir Putin on the margins of the BRICS Summit in July 2018,” the Presidency said.
At the conclusion of the bilateral meeting, the two Presidents signed a Declaration on the Strategic Partnership between South Africa and the Russian Federation.
An Agreement on Cooperation in the Field of Agriculture was signed as well as a Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation on Water Resources.
The two Presidents also had an opportunity to meet on the margins of the G20 Summit in June 2019.
The Sochi summit will be preceded by a Russia-Africa Business Forum on Wednesday in which Russian and African private sector companies will participate.
The Business Forum’s focus will be on trade, economic and investment cooperation between Russia and African countries.
The President will be accompanied by the Ministers of International Relations and Co-operation, Dr Naledi Pandor, State Security, Ayanda Dlodlo and Communications and Digital Technologies, Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams.
Deputy President David Mabuza has been appointed as the Acting President for the duration of the President’s trip abroad.