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Digging deep: Rusal owns and operates bauxite mines and an alumina refinery in Guinea, and has other operations in Nigeria


Peace Research Institute think tank. Russian private military contractors (PMCs),


such as the infamous PMC Wagner, have been reported to have had operations safeguarding industrial assets and supporting faltering regimesin countriessuchas Libya,Mozambique and the Central African Republic. “In a number of cases,PMCWagner appears


to have taken on contracts for commercial pur- poses. The ‘official’ Russian state can then use these existing, commercially driven engage- ments to achieve diplomatic aims,” says Mr McDowell, who noted Wagner’s presence in Sudan prior to the 2018 revolution. Russian military and diplomatic engage-


ment with Guinea intensified after Rusal invested heavily in the country’s bauxite reserves, withaccusations that incumbentpres- ident Alpha Conde called on Mr Putin for help with his re-election. However, Namory Camara, the head of Guinea’s investment promotion agency, told fDi he didn’t understand why Russian investment was singled out, and that it is relatively smallcompared to investment from other countries. “We have a non-align policy and do business with every country.” A report published in March 2020 by the


Kremlin-backed think tank the Russian International AffairsCouncil says: “The attempts to discredit Russia’s role in Africa must be coun- teracted… [and that] a substantive discussion needs to be held regarding which international partners Russia could cooperate with inAfrica.”


August/September 2020 www.fDiIntelligence.com Jideofor Adibe, a professor of international


relations and political science at Nigeria’s Nasarawa State University, believes these ten- sions may lead to a “second Cold War” if the US moves to stem Russian influence, but could equally present African countries with an opportunity. “If Russia’s involvement reawak- ens the interest of Africa’s traditional allies, then it presents the opportunity for [African countries] to extract concessions,” he adds.


Covid-19 effect Paul Stronski, a senior fellow in think tank Carnegie’s Russia and Eurasia Program, says the ability of Russian state-ownedenterprises to meet commitments of the summit will heavily depend on the healthof Russia’s domestic econ- omy and political environment in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic. However, as the initial shock of Covid-19


subsides, some African countries are receiving Russian investor interest. “The Sochi meeting was an eye opener. If it weren’t for Covid, we would already be seeing much more results from our meeting,” says Dr Moses Ikiara, head of Kenya’s investment promotion agency, who says he recently received interest from a Russian investor that he hadmet in Sochi. Withthe next Russia-AfricaSummit already


slated for 2022, and energy and mineral com- modities key to Russia’s strategic goals, Russia is likely to continue to expand its engagement with Africa.■


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