The end of the Cold War and the demise of the Soviet Union brought
an end to the ideology driven special relationship between Russia and
various African states. However, after ten years these relations were
resuscitated due to major changes on both sides. Under Vladimir Putin's
presidency and the economic recovery that followed, Russia made
efforts to reclaim a leading role in global politics, while various African
states grew politically more stable and economically more successful.
This time around, relations were focussed dominantly on economics
and trade, rather than on ideology as during the Cold War period.
Attracted by Africa's abundant resources, particularly energy and
minerals, a small number of mega Russian companies started to do
business with the continent at the turn of the century. This reengagement
with Africa came somewhat belatedly, after major players,
particularly China, the United States and the European Union, had
intensified their engagement. At the same time, Russia and Africa
found common cause in international political relations, as witnessed by similar policies in multilateral organisations, particularly aimed against
Western hegemony in world finance and economy. And as pointed out
in this article, Russia needs to embark on a more integrated, userfriendly,
transparent and competitive engagement strategy to become a major role player in doing business with Africa. Russia and Africa need
also familiarise themselves better with each other, particularly how to
do business with one another. As yet, one cannot really speak of a
visible Russian pivot towards Africa in its overall international relations.
However, if conditions remain favourable, this may develop over time.