The Russian Federation is still very much interested in expanding its involvement in the expansion and modernisation of African railways, a top official of Russian Chamber of Commerce, Vladimir Kazimirov has disclosed.
Speaking at a webinar on post Covid-19 Russian-African business relations, Kazimirov hinted that discussions are ongoing at high level of governments and the African Union to enhance involvement of Russian firms in African rail projects.
He said COVID-19 only means a change of strategy in term of delivery of plans, informing that the African Union Infrastructure department and other AU agencies are in discussion with Moscow on several infrastructural projects.
On the African High Speed Rail, he noted that discussions are on to build a strong partnership even as he admitted that it is a project that can only be realised through a multi-lateral agenda.
He explained that Russia is still in talks with Nigeria over the Coastal railway from Lagos to Calabar as well as the Eastern Rail link from Port Harcourt to Maiduguri.
“Russia is actively involved in several discussions. We are also partnering with Afrexim on funding”, he said.
The Vice President of Pan- African Chamber of Commerce, Prince Adetokunbo Kayode called for the fast tracking of project discussions , stating that the Africa business community is interested in the value chain economic and services opportunities in functional railway system in Africa.
“We are glad to hear that Russia is not abandoning African Railway scene. We are in support of the African High Speed Rail Project and other national rail projects ongoing all over Africa. The rail infrastructure is critical to African business prosperity”, he said.
Speaking earlier at the webinar, the Director of African Railway Roundtable, Mr Olawale Rasheed had questioned the reluctance of Russian railway firms to show interest in the African high speed rail project.
“Africa is a land of huge opportunities despite COVID-19. The railway sector is booming and the African High Speed Rail is ready for genuine partners and investors.”, Rasheed said.
Rasheed had observed that since several MOUs were entered into at 2019 Sochi event, no development has occured to translate the MOU into actionable Agreements.
Mr Kazimirov assured Africa that the Russian government is committed to implementing all agreements on railway developments, assuring that governments leaders are in close touch.