Russia and Africa in the Context of "North-South" Relations and in the Framework of BRICS

Conveners: Dr. Evgeny N. Korendyasov (Institute for African Studies, Moscow, Russia);
Dr. Tatiana L. Deych (Institute for African Studies, Moscow, Russia);

Contemporary international relations are characterized by the shift of center of global development from the West to the East and by growing influence of new global actors. The liberal model known as the "Washington Consensus" is being replaced by a new model which rejects a range of ultraliberal dogmas. Changes in the global power balance make it more urgent to explore the growing role of the "emerging" powers in the world affairs, in particular their relations to Africa. Today the BRICS countries play the role of new engine of the global economy. At the same time, in the new millennium most African countries have experienced the longest ever period of sustainable growth. This is one of the reasons why the continent in general has become the focus of new global actors’ foreign policies. Africa’s economic growth was stimulated by the demand for raw materials, which contributed to a dynamic increase in FDI inflows. In the recent years, there has been increased competition for Africa between the "old" players – the countries of the "North" – and the new "emerging" powers, especially the BRICS countries. The new "emerging" powers demonstrate their will to do what the West failed to do in Africa and persistently force "old players" out of the continent. In particular, BRICS are giving African countries more access to new financial and investment resources and to the latest technologies. Africa's interaction with new global players helps it to better integrate into a new world order based on polycentrism, power balanced and sustainable development. However, the increase of international weight of the "emerging" countries and their strengthening positions in Africa are of growing concern for the traditionally leading actors in the African scene. Western countries see BRICS’ activities in Africa as a threat to their economic interests, and as an obstacle to liberal democratization and market reforms in the continent. Tensions are also fuelled by competition among major ‘emerging’ markets for exports, investment, and impact on the global arena. They struggle not only for African resources, but also for political influence in Africa. The 54 African countries are a growing political force in the global world, which both the "old" and the new global players in their fight for Africa have that force in view. In recent years the Russian-African economic partnership has been expanding in many areas. Russia has long- term interests on the continent and considers development of multidimensional relations with Africa as one of its international priorities. Among other issues to be discussed are the present- day violent conflicts in Africa and the ways to resolve them. The panel will also discuss new trends in African countries’ foreign policies, the role of African countries in international organizations, the relations of major countries in the "North" and the "South" to the continent and to individual African countries, problems of inter-African relations and, in particular, aspects of violent conflicts in Africa. Special attention will be given to various aspects of the Russian- African relations and the Russian prospects in Africa.