Economic forum of Belarus and Africa: new beacons for joint business projects

№ 3, 2021



In the past three years, the mutual trade between Belarus and African countries totaled USD 1.8 billion. While in the early 2000s the annual trade with the continent made some USD 160 million, in 2020 it exceeded USD 550 million.

The relations of the Republic of ­Belarus with African states have been built on the principles of mutual respect, equality and equal consideration of the ­interests of each of the parties. ­Belarus and Africa are not a terra incognita for each other. Belarusian machinery is well-known in African markets, the republic's engineers took part in infrastructure projects there, and many citizens of ­African countries studied in Minsk

Many projects have been successfully implemented or are underway. ­Belarusian rock haulers, trucks and farm machines have gained a foothold in the markets of many African countries. Domestic companies supply potash fertilizers and tires to South ­Africa. They have certified MAZ trucks in that country, deliver metal products to Egypt and Algeria. Large projects and contracts are being worked out to supply Belarusian equipment and vehicles to Angola. The plants assembling ­Belarusian tractors and trucks in Egypt are an example of successful cooperation in the manufacturing sphere. Similar projects are underway in Sudan, ­Algeria, and other African countries.

Belarus believes that it is important not only to increase the volume of mutual trade but also to diversify it and use new instruments in joint work. It is viewed as promising to adopt the project-based approach and increase supplies of Belarusian machinery, equipment and components to ­Africa within the framework of various forms of industrial cooperation, to set up joint enterprises using Belarusian technologies, and to construct industrial and agricultural facilities on a turnkey basis.

One more important field is technology transfer and the provision of engineering services. Belarusian companies can offer African partners their R&D and industrial solutions and share their best practices in upgrading the energy sector, transport, and communications.

Education is also a promising area of cooperation. Africa is a very young continent, 60 percent of the population is young. Today higher education for young people is more important than ever for Africa and will contribute to the efforts to shape and strengthen the competitiveness of African countries globally. Belarusian universities are ready to enroll applicants in various popular majors, including manufacturing, agricultural, and healthcare training programs.

A special role in expanding partnerships and developing bilateral contacts, including in the economic sphere, belongs to diplomatic missions. The ambassadors and diplomats do not only promote the ­interests of their countries but also form conceptual and practical approaches to ­Belarus. With this in mind, the ­Belarusian ­Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the ­Ministry of ­Foreign Affairs of the ­Republic of Belarus for the second time invited the heads and representatives of the diplomatic missions of African countries accre­dited in our country to the Belarusian-­African Economic ­Forum. The event was aimed to present the potential of Belarus to diplomats, to provide an opportunity for representatives of domestic business to receive answers to their questions about entering the African market.


The second Belarusian-African ­Economic Forum was held in Minsk on May 31. On behalf of Belarus, the forum was attended by the BelCCI ­Chairman Vladimir Ulakhovich, ­Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Mikalai Barysevich, representatives of other ministries, the Development Bank, and more than 170 country's export-oriented enterprises from the heavy, light and food industries, agriculture, mining, and other sectors.

On behalf of African countries, the forum was attended by Deputy Foreign Minister of Mozambique Manuel Jose Gonçalves, heads and representatives of the embassies of African countries accredited to Belarus, honorary consuls of African countries in Minsk, Secretary-General of the Federation of Egyptian Chambers of Commerce and the Union of African Chambers Alaa Ezz. All in all, the forum gathered representatives of 14 African states.

In his welcoming address to the participants, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Belarus ­Mikalai Barysevich underlined that the dialogue platform of the Belarusian-­African forum is becoming traditional. "The more we communicate, the closer we become to each other. This approach fully meets the desire of our country to build up comprehensive and systematic relations with the states of Africa, to develop active work in the markets of the African continent," Deputy Foreign Minister said.

According to him, despite many challenges Africa is facing, the continent's economies continue actively developing; African states are playing an increasingly important role in international affairs and global production and trade chains. The implementation of the ambitious African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement, as well as the African Development Strategy 2063, has been launched. Mikalai Barysevich is confident that their implementation will make it possible to tap into the huge potential of African countries, and it will be advantageous for Belarusian businesses.

The Chairman of the Belarusian ­Chamber of Commerce and Industry noted that the majority of experts ­associate the development of the global eco­nomy with the African continent, and Belarus should take every opportunity to cooperate with the region. "The absolute majority of experts associate the development of the world economy with the African continent. First of all, because Africa is a storehouse of natural resources: manganese, vanadium, uranium, gas, oil, gold, and diamonds. In addition, we must take into account that Africa has a very young population," Vladimir Ulakhovich said.


"Today's forum is a unique chance for Belarusian business to learn more about the potential of African countries. The most important thing is the opportunity to hold negotiations, and I am sure that they will bring economic results in the future. Inevitably, our cooperation will continue, both because of Africa's growing importance and because of our mutual desire to develop our cooperation, which this forum confirms," the BelCCI Chairman said.

During the panel discussion "Africa – prospects for cooperation with the ­Republic of Belarus", presentations of the opportunities for trade and economic cooperation, promising infrastructure, logistics, and investment projects in African states were highlighted by the African diplomatic missions' representatives.

Uganda's Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to Russia and concurrently to Belarus Johnson Agara Olwa said that his country has enough arable land to feed the whole world. There, he said, are the opportunities for the development of livestock and agriculture, and therefore – for the use of Belarusian agricultural technologies.

Uganda is rich in minerals and ­produces gas and oil. "Since ­Belarus is an exporter of petroleum pro­ducts, we can cooperate in this area," ­Ambassador Johnson Agara Olwa believes. Besides, Uganda intends to start developing residential infrastructure and building hotels for tourism. Belarusian partners could help with this, too.

Other promising areas include information and communication technologies and education. The latter gets special attention in Uganda. The country is ready not only to send its students to Belarus but also to open a Belarusian university.

Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Ethiopia to Russia and concurrently to Belarus Alemayehu Tegenu Argau stated during the discussion that African countries want to diversify their trade. "Belarus and Ethiopia have many prospects for cooperation, the business communities of our countries could boost mutual trade. At present, its level is rather low," the Ambassador noted.

Namibia also views Belarus as a promis­ing partner for expanding economic, trade, and investment cooperation. ­Ambassador of ­Namibia to Belarus ­Clemens Handuukeme ­Kashuupulwa proposed ­Belarus cooperation in the mining industry, the energy sector, manufacturing, agriculture, and even the fishing industry. Namibia is keen to develop such areas as education, healthcare, tourism, transport and logistics.

Kenya took interest in Belarusian farm machinery. The country produces similar equipment, which is why it focuses on cooperation in manufacturing. Agriculture is seen as another promising area for the Belarus-Kenya cooperation, Minister Counsellor of Embassy of ­Kenya Joshua Mwangi Mugodo pointed out.

The partnership between Belarus and African countries is strengthening, the Minister Counsellor of the Embassy of the Republic of Congo Freddy Patrick Mukuengo said. "Congo would like to advance its relations with Belarusian companies to improve its agricultural policy using Belarus' experience in agriculture, machinery production, education, and processing," the diplomat noted. He invited Belarusian specialists to Congo to exchange best practices and discuss possible cooperation areas.

The presentations during the forum also outlined new perspectives and forms of cooperation in technology transfer, as well as cooperation opportunities in advanced technologies. The participants noted that the Economic Forum would strengthen ties between Belarus and the African continent, promote the common advantages of economic diplomacy, facilitate mutually beneficial projects.

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Within the framework of the forum, a cooperation agreement was signed between the Belarusian Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of South Africa. Thus, the list of the BelCCI partners in Africa, which had included 13 organizations in 13 African countries to that day, was extended.

After the official part of the second Belarusian-African Economic Forum, B2D negotiations were held between representatives of diplomatic missions and Belarusian companies, as well as B2B talks of Belarusian and Egyptian businesspeople.

One more event within the forum was a round table "Belarus – partner for Africa". Representatives of branch ministries, financial and business organizations presented the state and prospects of the development of trade and economic relations with African countries in the field of agriculture and food, the education opportunities of the Republic of Belarus, the prospects of international cooperation in the healthcare sphere, export finance mechanisms, and success stories of Belarus-Africa cooperation to African states diplomatic missions representatives.

In his address, the BelCCI Chairman Vladimir ­Ulakhovich underlined the special role of the Belarusian Chamber of Commerce and Industry in the develop­ment of business cooperation with African countries. He emphasized that it was a great honor and responsibility for the BelCCI to be a co-­organizer of the forum because the main mission of the Chamber is to assist the Belarusian business in developing foreign economic relations and all partners from different countries – in establishing contacts and implementing joint mutually beneficial projects. "All our services are focused on supporting these ties, and we will readily provide all our opportunities both to Belarusian enterprises and our foreign partners, in this very case from African countries," the BelCCI Chairman said.

The heads of African states' dele­gations having arrived in Belarus to partake in the Belarusian-African Economic Forum were received by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the ­Republic of Belarus Vladimir Makei. During the meeting, the outcomes of joint work on building up bilateral and multilateral cooperation over the three years were discussed. The participants shared views on the introduction of new forms and methods of economic cooperation, mutual trade diversification.


Representatives of African countries' embassies also attended the 31st international expo "Belagro", met with ­Belarusian Agriculture and Food ­Minister Ivan Krupko, visited industrial enterprises and had talks with their top managers.

As a result of the events within the forum, meetings and negotiations, new directions and forms of cooperation were identified, which will contribute to further intensifying interaction between Belarus and African states and will facilitate significant trade enhancement.