Russia has written off more than $20 billion of debt owed by African countries, said Russian President Vladimir Putin at a plenary session of the Russia – Africa Economic Forum, reports finanz.ru.
This is 42% more than the annual budget of Russia’s entire higher education system ($14 billion), and more than the amount that will be allocated to the national healthcare project between now and 2024 ($18.8 billion), for example.
Putin said that Moscow is systematically contributing to the development of the African continent.
“We provide trade preferences and cooperate as part of international organizations, for example through the World Food Program, the International Civil Defense Organization, and the World Health Organization. Our country participates in the initiative to mitigate the debt burden on African countries. At present, the total amount of written-off debt is in excess of $20 billion,” the TASS news agency cites Putin as saying.
The Russian president noted that, with a number of African states, Russia has begun joint programs which plan to use the debt funds to finance national economic growth projects.
A traditional area of Russian-African cooperation is the training of qualified staff, Putin emphasized. He noted that Russia established roughly 100 training institutions in Africa in the mid 1980s, and about half a million Africans received professional training to work in their countries’ industrial enterprises and agricultural sector. “Currently 17,000 students from Africa are studying in Russia, of them around 4,000 are being taught at the Russian budget’s expense,” he added.
Putin said that an intensive program has been planned for the forum, in which participants can put forward concrete ideas and proposals regarding prospective areas of Russian-African cooperation. He noted that the heads of Russian companies, in conjunction with the Ministry of Economic Development, have “prepared presentations of key Russian competencies which open up new opportunities for economic cooperation”.