The Russian president, Vladimir Putin and his Egyptian counterpart and African union chair, Abdulfatah Al-Sisi opened the first ever Russia-Africa Summit on Wednesday.
The two leaders welcomed thousands of African leaders to discuss politics and business worth billions of dollars. Unlike China, Putin has promised to refrain from political or other influence.
The two-day event will see more than 3,000 delegates from across Russia and Africa to discuss an array of topics from nuclear energy to mineral extraction.
All 54 African states sent a representative to the meeting, including 43 heads of state or government, according to Kremlin advisor Yuri Ushakov.
“We currently export to Africa $25 billion ($22.5 billion) worth of food — which is more than we export in arms, at $15 billion. In the next four to five years I think we should be able to double this trade, at least,” Putin said.
Russia is hoping to sign a potential military cooperation agreement with African states.
In addition to military and security cooperation with Africa, Putin also pledged Russian commitment to combat the Ebola virus with aid, and the training of African cadres by Russian universities.
“Joint projects are underway in extractive industries, agriculture, healthcare and education,” Putin said in his opening remarks.
Somalia will be among African countries to benefit from Moscow’s new engagement with Africa.