ISSN 2330-717X

Russia’s Economic Interest In Djibouti – OpEd

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Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has reaffirmed Russia’s preparedness to make coordinated efforts aimed at raising bilateral economic cooperation with the Republic of Djibouti during diplomatic talks attended by Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the Republic of Djibouti Mahamoud Ali Youssouf who paid a working visit to Moscow early June. 

Ahead of the diplomatic talks, the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in its official media statement, said the agenda included Russia-Djibouti cooperation in politics, trade, the economy, investment activity, education and healthcare, including implementation of potential joint projects in Djibouti. 

The discussion would cover current issues on the regional and international agendas with a focus on efforts to search for solutions in resolving crises in Africa, primarily in the Horn of Africa area. Both ministers would review some aspects of preparations for the second Russia-Africa summit in 2022. 

The leadership of the Republic of Djibouti is pursuing a line on the development of cooperation with Russia and shows interest in deepening the inter-state dialogue, and expanding cooperation in trade, economic, cultural and other fields. Objective conditions exist for enhanced interaction between our two countries in the international arena. The Republic of Djibouti plays an important role in sub-regional affairs. 

“We hope that the working visit of Mahamoud Ali Youssouf will be useful in terms of strengthening collaboration with Djibouti on the international scene and will contribute to the development of bilateral cooperation in trade, economic and other fields,” the Foreign Ministry said. 

Opening the June 8 talks, Lavrov noted in remarks that current level of interaction between Russia and Djibouti is far from the limit, the two countries should create conditions to stimulate their trade and economic ties for mutually beneficial projects in energy and agriculture.

“Our traditionally friendly bilateral relations continue to develop, and we feel a mutual disposition to expand cooperation in all areas,” Lavrov said. “Of course, the achieved level of our practical interaction is far from the limit. We consider it important to create conditions for enhancing trade, economic, investment ties for implementation of mutually beneficial projects in energy, transport infrastructure and agriculture,” he added. 

According to the Russian Foreign Minister, a number of Russian companies are showing interest in working in Djibouti and want to find partners there.

“We consider it important to assist representatives of the business community, to establish direct contacts, especially since we have recently formed a Russian-Djibouti business club,” Lavrov said. 

The culmination of the working visit of Mahamoud Ali Youssouf was the signing of a memorandum of cooperation on education between the Diplomatic Academy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation and the Institute for Diplomatic Studies of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Djibouti. 

Both have held similar diplomatic talks over the past years. For example, in October 2011 when Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov held one of such talks with Mahamoud Ali Youssouf, the Protocol on Consultations between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the Republic of Djibouti was signed. Since 2005, Mahamoud Ali Youssouf has been the Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the Republic of Djibouti. 

As already known, Djibouti has some competitive advantages. The port, logistics and associated services remain the dominant economic activity. The country has limited natural resources, industry or agricultural potential. While unemployment remains a challenge, the young and growing population point to the strong potential of the country. 

Djibouti is strategically located near some of the world’s busiest shipping lanes, controlling access to the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean. Djibouti’s economy is largely concentrated in the service sector. Commercial activities revolve around the country’s free trade policies and strategic location as a transit point and the strategic location makes the country prime for an increased military presence. 

Djibouti, with a population of approximately one million, situated in the Horn of Africa on the Gulf of Aden and the Bab-el-Mandeb, at the southern entrance to the Red Sea. Its neigbours include Somaliland in the south, Ethiopia to the southwest and Eritrea in the north. The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) regional body has its headquarters in Djibouti City. The IGAD members are Djibouti, Ethiopia, Somalia, Sudan, Uganda and Kenya.

Kester Kenn Klomegah

Kester Kenn Klomegah is an independent researcher and a policy consultant on African affairs in the Russian Federation and Eurasian Union. He has won media awards for highlighting economic diplomacy in the region with Africa. Currently, Klomegah is a Special Representative for Africa on the Board of the Russian Trade and Economic Development Council. He enjoys travelling and visiting historical places in Eastern and Central Europe. Klomegah is a frequent and passionate contributor to Eurasia Review.

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