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Russia hopes to expand presence in African region

June 20, 2013, 14:16 UTC+3

Presidential special envoy for cooperation with African countries Mikhail Margelov made a statement at a panel discussion on the sidelines of SPIEF

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ST PETERSBURG, June 20 (Itar-Tass) - Russia hopes to expand the presence in the African region, presidential special envoy for cooperation with African countries Mikhail Margelov said.

Speaking at a panel discussion on the sidelines of the St Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) on Thursday, Margelov said Russia returned to Africa and intends to increase investments into the continent’s economy, including owing to high tech projects in the energy sector.

The Federation Council Foreign Affairs Committee chairman recognised: “In the 1990’s Russia made a strategic mistake when it deals with its own matters by forgetting Africa.”

“This was an economic and political mistake,” Margelov added.

He stressed that Russia returned to Africa: the process had begun in 2006 when President Vladimir Putin made the first visit to South Africa. “Then the country started providing support to Africa,” the presidential special envoy said, adding that Russia had always had the positive image in the eyes of Africans.

According to Margelov, trade turnover with African countries reached about three billion U.S. dollars.

He said the volume was not big. But he stressed that trade turnover would be expanded.

The senator said Russia considered the African continent not only the source to invest in the ore mining industry and mineral resources but also the country where high tech projects can be carried out. “We develop high tech projects,” Margelov stressed.

He cited the joint project to produce solar batteries, which would make it possible to use diesel generators and diesel fuel. “We believe that our presence in the region will grow,” he said.

Margelov also noted Africa’s interest in investing in the Russian banking sector.

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