By Kester Kenn Klomegah
Acknowledging the huge untapped economic potentials in the relations between Russia and Africa, Ekaterina Dyachenko, the Founder of the B2B Export Group of Companies said in an interview Thursday that her company would collaborate with the authorities of the Republic of Ghana in organizing the next Russian-African Forum (RAF) in February 2017 in Accra, capital of Ghana.
This year, the RAF was held in May in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and in July as part of the INNOPROM-2016 international industrial trade fair in Yekaterinburg (Urals), and both gatherings have outlined diversified ways and reviewed prospects for strengthening economic cooperation between Russia and Africa.
According to the organizing committee, the Yekaterinburg forum attracted African delegates from different countries including Burkina Faso, Zimbabwe, Burundi, South Africa, Namibia, Rwanda, Senegal, Cameroon, Mozambique, Chad, Kenya, Ghana, Nigeria, Algeria and Egypt.
In Moscow, Ghana’s Ambassador to the Russian Federation, His Excellency, Dr. Kodzo Alabo, while discussing specifically various efforts and ways of strengthening relations between Russia and Ghana, has also expressed the desire of his country to host the Russian-African Forum (RAF) that would focus at promoting Russia’s economic partnerships and cooperation with countries of the ECOWAS region.
Besides, it would offer the country a unique opportunity to raise its profile as an investment destination and a gateway to west African market, Dr Alabo said, adding “I am highly confident that the forthcoming business event, that’s the Russian-African Forum, will undoubtedly promote the development and enhance business partnership between the countries in the region and the Russian Federation,”
Ghana has developed a stable political environment during the last three decades, leading to economic growth. The reasons why foreign investors are attracted to Ghana can be attributed to the favorable investment climate and incentives, rapidly developing infrastructure and a skilled labor force.
It has often been said that Russia and African countries have had a long history of business relations, including infrastructure development, human resource training and healthcare projects, as well as a wide range of other areas.
Kenya-based Dyachenko has 10 years of tremendous experience working and facilitating Russian business issues in Africa. After the previous RAF that was successfully organized in South Africa and East Africa, the B2B Group of Companies has received positive responses from African business community that indicated enormous interest in goods and services Russian companies can offer and export to Africa.
“As a new host for our next event in West Africa we are looking for a country which is most open to efficient cooperation with Russian Federation. At the moment we are looking first of all at Ghana, Nigeria and Guinea. RAF already started negotiations with the governments of the above mentioned countries and we are awaiting positive responses,” Dyachenko said.
The economies of West Africa are one of the fastest growing in the world. The key focus of the region is to meet the ever growing demand for housing, power, infrastructure, skills development and pharmaceuticals. Russian companies have developed a vast expertise in those areas and ready to participate in infrastructure, energy, mining, agriculture and other projects in Africa.
It is worth mentioning that there are only four Russian trade missions on African continent which are located in Morocco, Egypt, Algeria and South Africa at the moment. That is obviously not enough for efficient business consulting in the region. Therefore, the Russian-African Forum (RAF) is, in fact, one of the effective platforms for building an efficient business-to-business dialogue between Russia and Sub-Saharan Africa.
“As an addition, in order to tighten Russian-African business ties we organize business visits to Russia for African companies. The delegates can see a real manufacturing process, hold negotiations with Russian companies, financial institutions and government authorities, and get a better understanding of the way we do business in Russia,” Antonina Bondareva, RAF Director, said.
The B2B Export Group of Companies are the Russian-African Forum, Export Club project (business community of Russian exporters), some educational programs for Russian exporters and online trading platform – the easy and efficient way to source from Russia. It represents the next logical stage in the development of the electronic platform, in its activities as an international agency matching foreign buyers with sellers in Russia.
During the first 18 months of the initial phase of the company’s operations, it has facilitated more than 50 transactions.
Currently, the turnover of trade between Russia and Africa is estimated at $2.5 billion, while imports of non-primary goods to the African continent already aggregate to $430 billion and are growing at 10-15 % a year. Nearly, in all economic sectors in Africa, Russia’s major competitors are from foreign countries especially Asia, western Europe and European Union.