This week discussion sparked in Moscow and Africa, after NJ Ayuk, the head of the African Energy Chamber stated that Russian energy companies had so far failed to deliver on their promises to exploit Africa’s energy resources. «Russians have to do more to really get involved. Africans want to get married, Russians want just to date,» he said. In particular, he referred to the multiple MOUs signed at the Russia-Africa Economic Forum in 2019, which at that time were advertised as a new chapter for «Russia’s return to Africa».
The debate was unfolding in public channels on Telegram, which in Russia are considered to be more reliable and fast source of information than traditional media, as they are highly specialized with the engaged audience. Controversy about the quote of NJ Ayuk arose between @papagaz, the number one channel on oil&gas, and @energy4africa, an expert and insightful channel on Africa, focused energy sector and recorded 18,400 views in a couple of days.
What Russia actually did, @papagaz argues, was talking a lot and acting little.
In their post @papagaz supported NJ Ayuk, explaining that Africa has been waiting for Russia to act after successful negotiations reported and the MOUs signed at the Economic Forum in 2019. What Russia actually did, they argue, was talking a lot and acting little. African community has clearly expected Russians to go further than signing MOUs, or organizing their representative offices in Africa. «This speech is a sign for Russians to accelerate their initiatives because their places can be taken by more agile Chinese or Arabs», @papagaz wrote, referring to NJ Ayuk words.
In response, @energy4africa argued that Russia has so far made real moves towards boosting its energy ties with Africa, which corresponds to Russian government decision-making. In particular, the authors referred to the successfully operating projects of Rosneft in Egypt (Zohr), of Gazprom in Libya (Wintershall DEA), and of LUKOIL in the Republic of Congo. However, they admitted that Russia’s moves might have been made more consistent. The challenge @energy4africa highlights is matching Russia-Africa mutual expectations and then making them a reality.
Both @gazpapa and @energy4africa identified the current issue for Russia and Africa — turning rhetoric into actions in projects with sound strategic vision.
Both @gazpapa and @energy4africa identified the current issue for Russia and Africa — turning rhetoric into actions in projects with sound strategic vision. This issue was initially raised over a year ago when Anton Siluanov, Russian Minister of Finance, questioned LUKOIL’s investments in the Republic of Congo (Marine XII) as the company had earlier claimed tax relief from the Russian government. Public attention was then drawn to Russian energy projects in Africa and their feasibility.
Relevant decision-makers in Russian normally refrain from public comments, preferring to shape the agenda through anonymous but ‘reputable’ channels. So the discussion going on in the Russian Government is what should be the presence of Russian energy companies in Africa, what, how and for the sake of what should they do.
Relevant decision-makers in Russian normally refrain from public comments, preferring to shape the agenda through anonymous but 'reputable' channels.
In his book NJ Ayuk wrote that deal-making was truly important. We completely agree with him — the future of energy cooperation between Russia & Africa depends on fulfilment of obligations, tangible, reasoned and mutually beneficial projects, whose goal is not to make Africa a major energy exporter but to develop its own energy sector and create value for its own people.