Those who are thinking that Gazprom – the Russian gas giant company will soon be deregulated could as well go to sleep for now. Kremlin is not in a hurry to yield to the call of privatizing Gazprom. Vladimir Putin has just made it clear that the national gas company and Russia’s major exporter will remain a state –owned company.
With election drawing near, Gazprom which is part of the core strength of Kremlin cannot be expected to be thrown out to the free market in the midst of stiff political competition currently going on in Moscow. State control of this gigantic establishment favors the government of Medvedev and Putin.
Gazprom has continued to be a resourceful supplier of gas to Europe and is even finding it difficult to meet up the soaring demand in the region. In its new global market expansion and diplomatic locomotion, Kremlin has started to use Gazprom to penetrate new markets in Africa and beyond. Russia’s presence in Nigeria through Gazprom has become phenomenal. It has also enlarged her scope in Egypt, Southern Africa, Algeria, Libya, Angola, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Niger etc.
Now, it has become nationally imperative for Moscow to ensure that Russian companies – especially the ones in mineral development and energy are strongly established in Africa. This explains in a simple manner, Kremlin’s readiness to compete strongly alongside China, European Union, India and United State in Africa. To China, it is not only a quest for economic boost to realign itself for the new global demand, but a new play to woo back Russia’s old political allies in Africa and rebuild her global image as a world power which is one of the prime agenda of Putin’s next coming
In a Russian – Africa business forum organized in Addis Ababa last year, Mikhail Margelov informed the audience that Russia plans to return to Africa in full force. However, the question that has continued to loom is whether the expected force will generate enough momentum to threaten the staunch competitiveness of China which has sent cold waves down the spines of United States and Europe. Analysts are also trying to understand the competitiveness of Russian companies under an environment of quasi-deregulation whether it will be an albatross.
In 1970’s and early 80’s Moscow had the magnanimity of supporting social and economic development ventures in many African nations where it had vested interest. Russia offered scholarships to Africans , supported her educational and cultural programs In 1990’s when the economy of Russian became anemic, Russia commenced to tactically step down its presence in Africa and even went on to close about nine embassies in Sub-Saharan Africa. This move dwindle her presence in the region and gave new entrants such as China an upper hand. It’s yet to be seen if the new Russian strategy of coming back to Africa will resurrect her old culture of supporting social and economic development to match up with China’s growing investment in the region.
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