Moscow — As Russia’s new president Vladimir Putin begins a new phase of economic growth, trade experts are keeping a watchful eye on Moscow’s policies with the African continent, which they see as a huge, untapped source of economic opportunity.

But experts like Dmitri M. Bondarenko, vice director for research at the Institute for African Studies at the Russian Academy of Sciences and a long-time critic of Russia’s stagnant relationship with Africa under Dmitry Medvedev’s administration, is not very hopeful that a new president will bring any change.

Russia has a lot to offer African countries and the two regions can easily work together to create the best possible conditions for their entrepreneurs in an effort to develop mutually beneficial economic ties.

Several Russian companies like Russian Aluminuim (RusAl), LUKoil, Gazprom, and Renova, are ready and waiting to offer financial and banking services while others are eyeing local manufacturing industries in the continent.

Still, many potential African exporters still harbour negative perceptions about the Russian market, often comparing it unfavourably to export opportunities presented by the United States, Europe and increasingly by countries that comprise the BRICS group, of which Russia is a part – such as Brazil, India, South Africa and, particularly, China.  Read more…