Pres. Vladimir Putin says Russia wants to double its trade with countries in Africa in the next four to five years.
The Russian president also announced at the first Russia-Africa Summit in Sochi, Russia, that the country has written off more than $ 20 billion of Africa’s debt.
Dozens of African leaders, including South Africa’s president, Cyril Ramaphosa, and pres. Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt, attends the summit.
The Russians hope to strengthen its ties with Africa at the summit after it weakened after the fall of the former Soviet Union at the end of the Cold War.
The summit is jointly hosted by Russia and the African Union (AU).
Putin said there are many Russian companies that have a long and successful partnership with companies in Africa and they hope to expand it.
“We will support them from the state,” he said.
Although Russia has sold a large number of weapons to countries in Africa over the years, it is far behind its competitors in the commercial area on trade.
The European Union, China, India, the US and the United Arab Emirates are far ahead of the Russians in this area.
Russia announced earlier this week that it and Niger had agreed to deliver 12 Mi-35 attack helicopters to that country in West Africa.
Sberbank, the largest Russian lender, and other Russian financial institutions have also agreed to finance $ 5 billion in trade between Russia and African countries.