Russia’s envoy to Africa, Mikhail Margelov, has said that Russian companies are interested in the development of natural resources deposits in Africa.
Understanding his country’s dependence on oil and gas exports, and realizing how unreliable this dependence is from the standpoint of national security, Russia is now eying mining to be its main source of financing its effort to modernize and upgrade the economy in the next 10 years and beyond.
“Africa is a prospective region for Russian mining companies and Russia can offer technological products in the military, geological exploration and energy spheres. There are also prospects for sales of our metallurgical and machine-building products in Africa,” Margelov said at the Russia-Africa business forum.
The availability of large volumes of proven reserves, high-grade gold ores, fair geological, mining, infrastructure and climatic conditions along with a comparative cheap labor in some African counties secures high profitability.
The construction of nuclear power plants, both in Russia and abroad, is one of the few areas where Russia still has a competitive advantage internationally. However, such plants run on enriched uranium, and Russia doesn’t have enough of it. Therefore, Russia is obviously interested in uranium production in Africa.
Russian companies are also interested in diamond and platinum metals production in African states.
In the near future, Africa will likely consolidate its role as one of the last extensively developed hydrocarbon sources, and even see it grow. The leading global economies vying for the African oil and gas resources will exacerbate rivalries between the European Union, United States and China.
“Russia’s participation in oil and gas production is important as well since Africa will provide up to one quarter of the world’s oil output soon,” Margelov said, adding that Russia faced competition with U.S., EU, Chinese and Indian companies as well as with corporations from the Arabi Peninsula in the region.
“We must use our competitive advantages as we excel competitors under quality-price ratio in some industries. We still have knowledge of prospecting, production and transportation of natural resources, while in the political sphere we are neutral compared with the cold war period,” Margelov added.
Despite all its problems, Africa is developing faster than the rest of the world. Margelov argued, it’s important that Russia finds a place of its own in mutually advantageous cooperation with the African countries.