The Russia-Africa summit saw many African leaders flock to Russia to meet President Vladimir Putin. The summit as designed, painted the Russian leader as a player on the continent. However, the summit’s turn up by the African leaders appeared to be very low compared with the previous one and mostly attended by heavily indebted countries.
The African leaders sought investments, support for Ukraine peace plan from Vladimir Putin, and military aid from the Russian Federation. It was clear that the African leaders didn’t go there with one voice to represent the continent’s interest except on Ukraine peace plan, but as individual countries; with each lobbying for its interest. Kremlin offered grains to a few African countries to sour up its relations.
Others went there to lecture Putin about the colonization of the African continent by the Western powers as a card to register allegiances, as well as blame colonization as a reason for the underdevelopment in Africa. Colonialism ceased a long time ago and the African continent was or /and has been under the leadership of its indigenous peoples since then, but still no prosperity.
Even one of the African leaders who lectured Putin on the colonization of Africa has been in power in his own country for more than 30 years now. For the last three decades, he has his country’s instrument of power and institutions but still leads one of the poorest countries on the African continent.
Most of the African leaders talk about democracy and human rights when outside power, once they assume power they switch to authoritarian tendencies to oppress their own citizens and impoverish them. And they exploit the resources and wealth of their countries to maintain their grip on power for long. But at the end of day, they still blame colonization as the reason for poverty in Africa.
Despite the fact that the African continent is one of the victims of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, its leaders went to Russia without leverage and confidence to pressure Putin to end the war in Ukraine. The war in Ukraine caused food insecurity in Africa and raised the cost of livings for its people since grains and other food supply chains have been disrupted by the war.
Vladimir Putin withdrew from the UN-brokered Black Sea grain deal with Ukraine. Africa is one of the destinations of grain consignments from Ukraine, as such African leaders would have used this as leverage to pressure both Russia and Ukraine to end the war and to bring Putin back to the Black Sea grain deal. Because by Russia’s withdrawal from the deal, it has acted against the African interests as such it warrants also the withdrawal of support by the African leaders to Putin as tit for tat.
But because African leaders see Russia as an alternative global power to Western power, they seek reckon with to get support on the global stage.
However, the invasion of Ukraine by Russia has put Vladimir Putin in isolation from the global stage. By his country being under heavy sanctions from Western nations, and his indictment by International Criminal Court (ICC) for war crimes committed in Ukraine; he has little to offer to the African continent. But he uses it as a way to evade Western sanctions imposed on his country and government officials, something which would complicate relations and heighten tension with the West in Africa.
African leaders instead of realizing what impoverishes their continent like poor leadership and good governance; they seek mentorships from communist regimes as an alternative of democracy. They know very well that communism has repressive ideologies and ideas that are imposed not negotiated, but they choose simply to stay long in power.
African leaders fear transparency and accountability to their citizens which is why they hide under the curtain of authoritarianism as shields. However, few African countries with good leadership and governance, have at least achieved something in terms of development, and economic prosperity, but the rest stay below the poverty line.