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DURBAN, South Africa, March 27 (Itar-Tass) – Russia is going to do more to ease the debt burden on African countries, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday.
“We plan an extra effort to ease the debt burden. The intergovernmental agreements on the “debt for development swap” program have been concluded with Tanzania, Zambia and Mozambique to a total of 263.6 million dollars,” Putin told the meeting of the BRICS leaders with heads of African states.
He added that Russia had been granting direct aid to the African continent over decades. “I must say we have written off debts to a sum in excess of 20 billion dollars and are firmly in the lead for this index among the countries of the Group of Eight,” Putin noted.
He also pointed out that the BRICS countries jointly uphold the rights and interests of African countries and other countries with economies in transition and come out for enhancing their role and influence in the global management system, specifically in international financial and economic organizations.
The Russian president noted that Africa’s annual GDP growth is now about five percent and, according to a forecast, is to reach 2.6 trillion dollars by 2020, which is a 25 percent increase on the present index. Putin said this stimulates interaction of the BRICS countries and African states. Companies of the BRICS countries are active on the African market and invest heavier in the traditional sectors (mining and agriculture) and in high technologies and banking.
Putin noted that Russian companies implement investment projects with all North African states and with eleven sub-Saharan countries.
The Russian president said some 8,000 African students study in Russian higher educational establishments, half of them at government cost.
“There is a saying in Africa that a friend is closer than a brother. I am sure that the present meeting will help intensify mutually advantageous cooperation in various directions,” the Russian leader said.