Russia-Ghana relations in the past and the present: a time-proven partnership

Cover Page


The article of Russian and Ghanaian authors describes the evolution of political and economic relations between Soviet Union/Russia and Ghana throughout different historical periods (starting from 1950s to present). Great attention is paid to the basis of the cooperation laid in Soviet period. The article also observes current tendencies of the bilateral relations, which are quite friendly and fruitful. Moscow regards the Republic of Ghana as a reliable, time-proven partner especially on international issues: the establishment of a more democratic polycentric world order, ensuring regional and strategic stability, disarmament, combating international terrorism and other global challenges and threats. Russia and Ghana provide each other mutual support in the election of representatives of the two countries in international organizations. Russia and Ghana also develop their cooperation in the field of security. The participation of USSR/Russia in foreign trade of Ghana is analyzed. The significant increase in the number of Ghanaian trade partners is indicated while the share of Great Britain decreases and the share of Asian, African and other states increases. In recent years, the favorable conditions for the development of Russian-Ghanaian trade and economic relations were created. The cooperation of the two countries also develops in the field of nuclear energy. The main bilateral visits between Ghana and Russia are examined in the article. The special attention is paid to the first meeting of the Russian-Ghanaian Inter-governmental commission on trade, economic, academic and technical cooperation took place in Moscow in October 2014.

Full Text

THE HISTORY OF SOVIET-GHANA RELATIONS (1950S-1990S) Ghana was the first Sub-Saharan African country to gain independence on 6 March 1957, and after it became an independent state, it began to build a new system of foreign policy relations. The new state soon found a strong ally - the USSR. Ghana’s relations with the Soviet Union bore different character in different periods. The Soviet delegation in 1957 headed by the minister of state I.A. Benediktov visited the festive ceremony of Ghana’s independence declaration. The two countries established diplomatic relations on January 14, 1958. Soon after, in 1959, the Soviet embassy in Accra was established, and Ghanaian embassy in Moscow appeared in 1960. The basis for mutually beneficial relations was laid in 1960, when the two countries signed agreements on trade, economic and cultural cooperation, with 5-year duration. In February 1961, the Soviet delegation headed by Leonid Brezhnev visited Ghana, and in summer of 1961 Ghanaian delegation led by Kwame Nkrumah visited the USSR (during the visit, the two countries adopted the agreement on cultural and academic ties) [Vinokurov 2001]. At that period, relations between the parties and public organizations of the two countries had developed; there was a lively exchange of artists, writers, sportsmen and academic workers. Soviet cultural Centre in Ghana was performing a great job - at its Russian language courses, several hundreds of students had studied the language. Relations between the Khrushchev’s government and the Ghanaian government headed by one of the leaders of the struggle for independence, Kwame Nkrumah, were not always easy. However, later they proved to be friendly and fruitful for both sides. As Canadian-Nigerian researcher O. Igho Natufe wrote in his book “Soviet policy in Africa: from Lenin to Brezhnev” (2011), “both Moscow and Accra seemed to have reasons to be cautious in the early days of Ghana’s independence. The Soviet nonchalant attitude could be explained by the presence of George Padmore and British expatriates in Nkrumah’s government, especially in the foreign ministry. Besides the presence of Padmore, it was obvious that the Soviet Government was still having ideological problems in dealing with Nkrumah, an African bourgeois nationalist...The Soviets perhaps could not reconcile Nkrumah’s anti-colonialism with his expressed faith in Britain and the British Commonwealth, an institution which the Soviet Union regarded as a vehicle of British imperialism. Soviet scholars, especially Potekhin, the doyen of Soviet Africanists and the leading expert on Ghana, were yet to articulate a conceptual base for dealing with Ghana” [Natufe 2001]. Nkrumah affirmed the right of all colonial people to control their own affairs and the right of all colonies to be free from foreign imperialist control, be it political or economic. The books he wrote (“Towards Colonial Freedom” (1962), “Neo-colonialism, The Last Stage of Imperialism” (1965), and others) became a blueprint for many of the freedom fighters, especially in the Southern Africa, in Africa’s decolonisation period. Many of Nkrumah’s political initiatives were supported by the USSR. Nkrumah’s government organised two major conferences devoted to decolonization efforts - the first Conference of Independent African States (CIAS) in Accra (1958), at which the Soviet Union was represented, and the first All-African People’s Conference (AAPC) (1958), at which the USSR also sent a small delegation [Natufe 2001]. In 1962, Nkrumah organized an international conference “The World without Bombs” as a part of the initiatives for peace in the world in which the Soviet delegation also took part. In 1962, Nkrumah was awarded an International Lenin’s Prize for his efforts in the struggle for peace. The cooperation with the USSR was a significant driver of the development of Ghanaian industry. The Soviet Union helped Ghana in building the necessary infrastructure of the newly decolonized country: precious metals refinery in Tarkwa, integrated house-building factory in Accra, fishing fleet and fish-processing plant, etc. Soviet organizations performed project works for the construction of the Bui hydroelectric power plant. They also assisted in building houses, educational centers (for example, Legon University [Gana: 50-letie nezavisimosti... 2007]) and hospitals (for example, in Kumasi). Soviet geologists helped in finding the deposits of gold, limestone, manganese, and phosphorites. In February 1961, Ghana and the USSR signed the agreement on cooperation in the peaceful exploration of nuclear energy, in accordance with which the USSR helped Ghana in creation of a nuclear reactor for research purposes and the isotope laboratory in Legon (University of Ghana), in preparing academic staff for nuclear research. Hundreds of Soviet specialists - geologists, engineers, doctors and teachers - worked in Ghana in the 1960s. There was an exchange of military delegations. In the 1970s, Soviet specialists carried out an exploration work searching for oil in the Volta region. The Soviet government also provided a substantial training assistance to Ghanaian national personnel since 1961. At that time, over 2,000 Ghanaians have been educated in the Soviet Union, and about a thousand students were taught in Soviet schools in more than forty cities of the USSR. To pay for the work of the Soviet specialists and provided materials, in the 1960s the USSR provided 23 loans for Ghana, amounting to 53 million dollars, and in 1982-1987 - loans and gifts amounting to 19 mln dollars. In 1961, the Soviet-Ghana Friendship Society was established. In 1962, the Soviet commercial and industrial exhibition took place in Accra [Potekhin 1965]. Chief Soviet expert on Ghana, first director of the Institute for African Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Ivan Potekhin, noted in his last book about Ghana written in 1965, “the practical business cooperation with the socialist countries helps Ghana to achieve the main aim of the second stage of anti-imperialist revolution - the economic independence. The principal value of such cooperation is determined not by the amount of mutually beneficial deals, but by the fact that it takes the imperialist countries away from their monopolist positions and by this decreases their opportunity to dictate” [Potekhin 1965]. Unfortunately, cooperation between Ghana and the USSR literally came to a halt after a military coup in 1966 in Ghana, which saw the political demise of Dr. Kwame Nkrumah. The CIA-backed coup in Ghana was part of the Cold War conflict and happened because President Nkrumah was considered an ally of the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. Geoffrey Bing, Attorney General and a former Labor MP of United Kingdom once said “whatever Nkrumah did, he nonetheless represented a challenge for the West, for it was this challenge that caused the West to mount such a powerful and sustained counter-offensive” against him[112]. As British researcher Guy Arnold mentioned, “Nkrumah was derided after his fall and his enemies, who were many, proceeded to tear his reputation apart. His impact, nonetheless, had been profound: in Ghana as the architect of independence; in Africa as the (ultimately rejected) idealist; and in the West as a dangerous radical, not because he turned to the Communists but because he refused to be subservient to Western interests” [Arnold 2005: 222]. After the toppling of Nkrumah in Ghana, the transition period followed, with several consequent regimes (The National Liberation Council chaired by Lt. Gen. J.A. Ankrah (1966-1969. Dr. Kofi Abrefa Busia (1969-1972). Col. Acheampong, chairman of the National Redemption Council (NRC) (1972-1978). General Frederick Akuffo (1978-1979) and Dr. Hilla Limann - 1979-1981). These regimes almost isolated themselves from the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. Their foreign policies were channeled towards the Western powers. After the National Liberation Council came to power in 1966 (until 1969), the technical and economic cooperation was frozen, air links between Moscow and Accra were cut off, and trade decreased. The relations with the Socialist countries were also interrupted. The government of Prime-Minister Busia (1969-1972) did not prevent the renewal of ties between the civil society organizations of the two countries, including the Society of Friendship between Ghana and the USSR. In 1970, the agreement on cultural cooperation was concluded. Under the government of National Redemption Council (1972-1978), the technical-economic cooperation and trade relations between the two countries started to restore, and Ghana’s relations with the socialist countries normalized. On 28 October 1976, the new USSR - Ghana trade agreement was signed in Accra[113]. In 1976, the direct air communication between Moscow and Accra was restored, and in June 1978, the sides signed the agreement on maritime navigation. Starting from 1973, Ghanaians again got the opportunity to study in the USSR. There was the creation of an Association of the Soviet higher education institutions alumni. In 1975, the activities of the Soviet cultural centre renewed. However, the relations in the second half of the 1970s were not as close as before. Under the government of General Akuffo the Soviet-Ghanaian ties were almost non-existent. The 1970s were probably Ghana’s worst decade during the latter half of the XXth century. They were marked by series of military coups and the economic downturn - by mid-1978 the economy of the country was practically in ruins [Arnold 2005: 374]. The situation changed only after the Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC), led by Jerry Rawlings, came to power in 1981. Jerry John Rawlings was Ghana’s military leader since the December 31, 1981 coup until the transition into a constitutional government in 1992. He led the coup on June 4, 1979, that overthrew the regime of General Frederick Akuffo, who had deposed his predecessor, General Acheampong in a palace coup. After the 1979 coup, Rawlings restored the country to a constitutional rule, which brought Limann’s administration into power. However, Rawlings staged another coup to overthrow Limann in 1981 where the country was plunged into another military regime that lasted until the fourth republic of 1992. “Rawlings was a new phenomenon in West Africa: young and dashing, he achieved huge popularity when in 1979, he swept away the corrupt old order that had become a byword. He was highly critical of the political and economic bankruptcy of the old regime and he had emerged as the spokesman for the new radical populism” [Arnold 2005: 673]. The 1979 revolution led the country to an almost total foreign policy isolation, when the Western states and nearly all African states stopped their trade relations with Ghana. After Limann’s government came into power, relations with Western and African states started to normalize. However, under the government of Provisional National Defence Council (1982-1983) they again deteriorated. In 1983, Ghana’s relations with African states began to improve, because Ghana had started supporting the peaceful resolution of inter-African problems and showed support to the peaceful initiatives of the USSR [Vinokurov 2001: 72]. The new regime headed by Rawlings declared its desire to restore friendly relations and develop multilateral cooperation with the Soviet Union. The sides agreed to establish political contacts and to exchange views on major international issues and bilateral relations [Ostrovenko 2015]. In the 1980s, the USSR continued to assist in developing of Ghana’s mining and manufacturing sectors. After the Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC), led by Jerry Rawlings, came to power, in December of 1982 the Soviet and Ghana signed an agreement on technical and economic cooperation. In line with this agreement, the Soviet specialists conducted the research and prepared the technical-economic rationale for the construction of the Bui hydroelectric plant, provided assistance in creation of secondary vocational technical school in Teme [Ostrovenko 2015] and gold refinery in Tarkwa. The two states exchanged delegations of civil society organizations, exhibitions and artists. The parties relations also developed (CPSU delegations visited Ghana in 1985, 1986, in 1987-twice, 1988, 1989, and the delegation of PNDC visited the USSR in 1988). In April 1991, the Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of the USSR, A. Piotrovsky, visited Ghana. In October 1991, the protocol on cooperation was signed between the Soviet confectionery plant “Krasny Oktyabr” and the private Ghanaian firm in Sekondi-Takoradi. Ghanaian trade is characterized by the significant increase in the number of trade partners while the share of Great Britain decreases and the share of Asian, African and other states increases. If in the 1960s Ghana’s major trade partners were Great Britain, countries of the European Economic Community (EEC, later - EU), Socialist bloc countries, US and Japan, by the beginning of 1990s about a half of the Ghanaian import fell on the countries of the EU. Africa’s share was around 15%, North America - 15%, Asia - 12%, and East European countries share fell from 10% in the beginning of the 70s to 1%. Table 1 Share of Soviet Union/Russia in the geographic distribution of Ghana’s export and import* EXPORT Country 1975 1980 1985 1990 1993 1994 1995 Total, US$ mln 807,2 1 205,9 635,2 1 239,2 1 203,0 1 614,0 1 662,0 Share, % USSR (Russia) 7,5 14,0 15,8 14,0 11,5 0,3 0,2 IMPORT Total, US$ mln 790,7 1 129,5 726,3 1 614,0 2 029,0 2 073,0 2 490,0 USSR (Russia) 0,1 0,05 0,2 0,4 0,05 0,25 0,1 *Compiled from the materials of the handbook “Ghana”, prepared by the Institute for African Studies of RAS. 2001. pp. 147-149. Soviet-Ghanaian trade relations were regulated by the agreement on trade and economic cooperation signed in 1960, and afterwards by the agreement of 1976. The bilateral trade dynamics was as follows: Table 2 Russian-Ghanaian bilateral trade, in million rubles* Mln rubles 1960 1965 1970 1975 1980 1985 1990 1995 Trade turnover 24,4 58,7 49,7 57,0 122,6 39,4 22,5 4,6 Export 19,5 27,6 39,8 46,3 122,3 38,4 21,9 4,5 Import 5,0 31,1 9,9 10,7 0,3 1,0 0,6 0,1 *Data taken from the handbook “Ghana”, prepared by the Institute for African Studies of RAS, 2001. p. 149. The Soviet Union was importing from Ghana the cocoa beans (the trade was carried through the London Stock Exchange), gold and timber, and exported equipment, petrochemicals, rolled ferrous metal products, pharmaceutical and chemical goods, fertilizers, consumer goods, fish and sugar. Rawlings in his January 1990 speech to nation expressed careful optimism about the momentous events then taking place in Eastern Europe [Arnold 2005: 677]. After the collapse of the Soviet Union both political and economic relations between Ghana and Russia reduced significantly, the bilateral trade turnover decreased. However, in December 1991 Ghana acknowledged Russia to be the former USSR successor state. At the end of the 1990s - beginning of the 2000s the two countries signed the agreements on cultural and economic cooperation[114]. In the beginning of the 1990s Russia due to its internal political and economic reasons almost completely withdrew from Africa, but in the second half of the 1990s-beginning of 2000s Russian government found such policy inconsistent with the real Russian national interests, and Russia gradually started to regain its positions on the African continent. As for Ghana in 1990s, although economic recovery under Rawlings during 1980s was quite impressive, yet at the beginning of the 1990s Ghana still had a long way to go to achieve its true economic potential. Total external debts stood at 3,078 million dollars in 1989 which was equivalent to 59.9% of GNP while debt servicing was equivalent to 48.9 per cent of export earnings [Arnold 2005: 676]. By 1990, after eight years of recovery and macro-economic growth, the vast majority of Ghanaian populations were still very poor. In the beginning of 1990s, Ghana managed to switch smoothly from military to democratic regime and to start market economy reforms with the help of IMF and World Bank. A new Constitution of Ghana restoring multi-party system politics was promulgated in Ghanaian presidential election, 1992; Rawlings was elected as president of Ghana then, and again in Ghanaian general election, 1996. CURRENT RUSSIA-GHANA RELATIONS (2000-2016) Currently, Ghana has become a regional power in West Africa due to its growing economic prosperity and democratic political system. John Agyekum Kufuor of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) won the 2000 Ghanaian elections, and repeated his success in the 2004 Ghanaian elections, thus serving two terms of office. As a result of the 2008 election, John Atta Mills of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) won the presidency [Nemchenko 2009]. After he died, the then vice-president of Ghana John Dramani Mahama succeeded him on 24 July 2012. Following the Ghanaian presidential election in 2012, Mahama was inaugurated as 12th President of Ghana on 7 January 2013 to serve until 7 January 2017. In the 1990s-2000s Ghana showed steady economic growth of 3-6% annually. In 2005, the country occupied the 9th place among 175 countries by its investment attractiveness and business development speed [Gana: 50-letie nezavisimosti... 2007]. Ghana is one of the world's largest gold and cocoa producers (second-largest world cocoa producer in 2016 [Ghana 2016]). The Ghanaian economy is strongly tied to such commodities as cocoa, gold and oil, which are the three main sources of income and foreign currency. Price swings for these three resources, increased spending on domestic public sector wages, an electricity shortage and other external factors have combined to slow the pace of development in recent years. However, according to provisional statistics, GDP for 2014 was estimated at $33.4 bln, indicating year-on-year growth of 4% [Ghana 2016. Economy]. New offshore oil and gas fields are expected to accelerate economic growth starting in 2016, with energy set to contribute 2% to GDP in 2016 and 4.1% by 2017 [Ghana 2016. Economy]. Ghana is one of the so-called “African Lions”. Its growth rate from 2006 until 2015 averaged 2.11% reaching an all-time high of 8.10% in the first quarter of 2012[115]. Ghana has one of the highest GDP per capita in West Africa. In 2007, an oil field which may contain up to 3 billion barrels of light oil was discovered. Yet, in spite of abundance of natural resources, a quarter of the population (nation of 25 million people in 2015[116]) are still poor. Ghana is a member of the Non-Aligned Movement, the African Union, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Group of 24 (G24). Ghana and Russia support the traditionally friendly bilateral relations. Moreover, Ghana and Russia’s approaches to the resolution of major global problems are similar or coincide. Russia and Ghana provide each other mutual support in the election of representatives of the two countries in international organizations. In 2006, Ghanaian President, John Agyekum Kufuor expressed satisfaction with the significant improvement in Ghana-Russia relations saying the two countries were co-operating well at the United Nations Security Council and on the bilateral and international fronts[117]. In June 2003, the delegation of the State Duma of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation headed by the Deputy Chairman of the State Duma A. Chilingarov visited Ghana. In June 2004, the Ghana Parliament delegation headed by Speaker of Parliament P. Ajetey visited Russia. In order to promote the development of bilateral cooperation in the economic sector, the Ghanaian-Russian Chamber of Commerce was established in May 2003. In December 2003, the Ghanaian-Russian parliamentary group was established for the development of inter-parliamentary ties[118]. In January 2006, in connection with Ghana’s election as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council for 2006-2007, Russia and Ghana held consultations in Accra regarding UN’s agenda [Razmyslov 2015]. In March 2007, Ghana celebrated its 50th anniversary of independence. Special representative of the Russian president V. Putin on ties with African leaders, corresponding member of the Russian Academy of Sciences Alexey Vasiliev attended the celebrations. He passed to Ghana’s President G. Kufuor the congratulatory letter of Russian President Vladimir Putin [Nemchenko 2007]. In June 2007, during the G8 summit in Heiligendamm (Germany) the meeting of the President of Russia Vladimir Putin with the President of Ghana, John Kufuor, took place. In July 2007, the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ghana, Nana Akufo-Addo was on a working visit to Moscow. Following talks with the Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, a protocol on consultations between foreign ministries of the two countries was signed. In September 2009, in New York during a working lunch on behalf of the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, President of Ghana John Atta Mills invited Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to visit Ghana on an official visit. In turn, Russian President also invited his Ghanaian counterpart to Moscow. In February 2013, Russian Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Mikhail Bogdanov arrived in Ghana with a working visit. He discussed with the President of Ghana John Mahama Dramani the state and prospects for promotion of the whole complex of Russian-Ghanaian relations. The Ghanaian side reiterated their interest in further enhancing trade, economic and humanitarian cooperation, in attracting Russian investments in the fields of transport, energy, agriculture and the mining sector. Consultations were also held with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ghana Hannah Tetteh on the improvement of the legal framework of the Russian-Ghanaian cooperation and implementation of trade-economic and investment cooperation projects. In August 2013, Ghanaian Minister of Foreign Affairs Hanna Tetteh visited Russia with a working visit and negotiated with her Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov. They discussed the whole complex of bilateral ties, first, questions of cooperation in trade and economic sphere with the focus on fuel and energy sector. They also discussed the measures to strengthen the legal basis of the relations and the perspectives of extension of contacts in spheres of science and education. They also touched upon the problems of conflict resolution in Africa[119]. In recent years, the favorable conditions for the development of Russian-Ghanaian trade and economic relations were created. As of 2012, according to the Ghana Trade and Investment Chamber, there were 12 registered commercial structures in Ghana, which were managed and organized by Russian businesspersons. These companies operated primarily in gold mining and commerce[120]. In October 2003, the presentation of Gorky Automobile Plant (GAZ) products was organized in Ghana. The plant opened its sales office in the city of Tema[121]. However, as of 2008, Russia was not among the major trade partners of Ghana. The bilateral trade turnover in 2002 was over US$22 mln [Afrika 2010: 679]. Russian export (US$5 million) - paper for printing newspapers and cardboard, black metals, rolled steel, pipes, vehicles and equipment. Import (17.3 million dollars) - cocoa beans and cocoa preparations, cocoa butter and fruits [Afrika 2010: 679]. The bilateral trade turnover in 2010 amounted to US$146 million (export - US$28 million, import - US$118)[122]. “The level of mutual trade between Russia and Africa, as the statistics show, is the lowest among Russia’s economic interactions with the rest of the world. The data of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development for 2012 contain the following indicator for Russian trade with Africa: over $7.2 billion for the combined foreign trade turnover, which was a fivefold increase from 2000. Out of this sum, $2.1 billion were imports” [Nalbandov 2016: 443]. These figures of mutual trade are significant indicators of the low level of Russian participation in the African economies, writes researcher Robert Nalbandov, however, the picture is different with the Russian direct investments in Africa. Between 2004 and 2008, several leading Russian heavy industry companies, including “Nornikel”, “Rusal”, “Renova”, and “Alrosa”, invested more than $5 billion in the industrial markets in Africa. Namely, “Lukoil Overseas”, a branch of Lukoil, entered Africa with over $200 million for the sea oil extraction in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire and has plans for twelve more mines in Ghana and Sierra Leone. The total amount of Lukoil’s investments in the region in 2011 amounted to $700 to $900 million” [Nalbandov 2016: 443-444]. The cooperation between Russia and Ghana in the energy and mining sectors is very active. Since 2007, “Lukoil Overseas” entered in the consortium of companies “Vanco Ghana Ltd.” and the “Ghana National Petroleum Corporation” (GNPC) for the implementation of a project to develop oil and gas deposits in the Cape Three Points Deep Water (CTPDW) of Ghana. In February 2010, president of “LUKOIL” V. Alekperov and the former President of Ghana J.E. A. Mills jointly announced the discovery of commercial hydrocarbon reserves in the Ghanaian capital Accra[123]. In October 2014, the first meeting of the Russian-Ghanaian Inter-governmental commission on trade, economic, academic and technical cooperation took place in Moscow. It was preceded by the expert negotiations of specialists from a range of interested ministries and government agencies of the two countries. The sides have reached agreements on the realization of joint projects in such spheres as energy, subsoil resources management, geological prospecting and exploration, transport, industry, agriculture, education, public health, etc. Russian side of the Inter-governmental commission, headed by the Deputy Minister of natural resources and ecology of the Russian Federation V. Pak, was represented by the officials of federal ministries and agencies and companies interested in cooperation with Ghana. Ghana at the event was represented by a delegation headed by co-chair of the said Commission; the Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ghana, Kwasi Kwartey noted that Russia viewed Ghana as a reliable and perspective partner on the African continent. As a result of the meeting, the sides signed the Protocol of the Inter-governmental commission in which the main tasks of the cooperation between Russia and Ghana were stated. Partners decided to organize the next meeting of the commission in Accra in 2016. The mechanism of the Inter-governmental commission proved to be an effective instrument for the intensification of the cooperation in various fields[124]. In spring 2016, Ghana Embassy in Moscow organized a symposium, which was attended by the eminent group of diplomats, industry leaders, prominent international traders and analysts as well as Ghanaians resident in the Russian Federation. Symposium was part of the Independence Day celebration in Moscow. The meeting was chaired by the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Ghana to the Russian Federation, H.E. (Dr.) Kodzo Kpoku Alabo. The participants focused on the historical evolution of Russia and Ghana relations and their future perspectives. Ghana Cocoa Board's Chief Executive Dr. Stephen Kwabena Opuni also addressed the gathering on the role of the cocoa industry in Ghana. One of the key speakers, Dr. Leonid Fituni, Deputy Director of the Institute for African Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences mentioned another important sector for possible broadening of cooperation between Russia and Ghana. It is grain: The price of wheat made the highest gain in February 2016 in Ghana. The government undertook serious steps to improve the situation. Cooperation with Russia may be one of the solutions here. Wheat exports from Russia are expected to set a new record this year. Starting from the beginning of the season Russia shipped 40.2 thousand tons with total cost $ 6.845 mln[125]. This makes about 8% of total requirements in wheat. What is important, Russia is able to supply wheat relatively cheaper than its main competitors. This opens the way for looking into ways of expanding the deliveries. Prof. Fituni called for a more decisive and effective action to mitigate eventual challenges and ensure stronger and sustainable growth in economic interaction between Russia and Ghana. The cooperation of the two countries also developed in the field of nuclear energy. During the November 2011 talks in Moscow, a memorandum of understanding was signed between “Rosatom” and the Ministry of Energy and Petroleum of Ghana, in which the sides agreed on the construction of nuclear power plants for peaceful purposes in Ghana with the help of “Rosatom”. In September 2015, the agreement between Russian and Ghana on the cooperation in the sphere of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes entered into force[126]. The company “Techno-Nikol” - one of the largest manufacturers of construction materials in Russia - opened a temporary storage warehouse in Tema, of its products in the free economic zone in Ghana to supply the construction materials to the local market and across the West African region. Russia and Ghana also develop their cooperation in the field of security. In early 2005, the Defence Ministry of Ghana bought four new helicopters from Russia, as part of measures to equip the Ghana Armed Forces (GAF) to enable them to defend the territorial integrity of the country. The two countries then developed a special joint venture negotiations which started in 2006. As a result, Russia has established a sub-regional aviation training and military helicopter service center in Ghana. Russian helicopters Mi-17 supplied to the Ghanaian army would be used to support peacekeeping operations, to perform medical evacuations, search and rescue operations, and movement of troops, and to support government agencies. Russian experts, who brought the helicopters, stayed in Ghana for six months to train their Ghanaian counterparts, and some officers of the Ghanaian Air Force had already been trained in Russia to operate and maintain the helicopters. Even before this initiative, Russia had always been an important partner providing the logistical services for the Ghana Armed Forces. There have been several appeals to the Russian government to assist the Ghana Air Force to upgrade its equipment, train its pilots, etc. Indeed, it has always been the Ghanaian government's desire that cordial relations between both armed forces were restored for the benefit of both countries. In 2013, Russian state company “Rosoboronexport” supplied another four helicopters of this type to Ghana[127]. “Rosoboronexport” has been a major supplier of arms to Ghana, for the first time since 2012[128]. Ghana and Russia also develop fruitful cooperation in the sphere of education. University of Ghana (in Legon) now teaches Russian as a foreign language. In 2005, 300 students chose to study Russian [Nemchenko 2008]. In 2007, the Russian embassy in Accra first held a Russian language contest for students to test their knowledge of Russian language, history and culture. This contest was a part of the Russian government initiative. This contest has now become a tradition and annual ritual during which Russian diplomats give lectures, organize exhibitions, dedicated to historical and cultural events in Russia. Currently, there is also a partnership between the Institute of Russian Language named after Alexander Pushkin and the University of Ghana[129]. In general, by 2011 around 4000 Ghanaian specialists had received education in the USSR/Russia[130] and were successfully employed in Ghana, including government structures[131]. Every year around 100 Ghanaians go to Russia to receive higher education either thanks to Russian state funding or on commercial grounds[132]. In 2013, Russia increased the number of state stipends for Ghanaian students by a half so it became 60[133]. In general, political stability and sustained economic growth in Ghana provide a good basis for the further development of bilateral cooperation between the two countries[134]. Russia's policy in Ghana and Africa as a whole has intensified markedly in recent years. Russian cooperation with some countries like Angola, Uganda, and Ethiopia is remarkable, but its presence there cannot be compared to other countries, like China, France and the USA. However, for Russia to reclaim its role as a global power after long being seen as a “weak” by the West, it needs to be present in all parts of the world - and, Africa is indeed an increasingly important one. As economic sanctions affect negatively Russia’s trade with the West, Africa is becoming an increasingly attractive trade partner and investment direction. Africa’s 54 countries also represent a political opportunity to relieve Russia’s isolation and to build support for its actions in the UN. Moscow regards the Republic of Ghana as a reliable, time-proven partner. Moscow and Accra maintain an intensive political dialogue, successfully develop trade, economic, investment and military-technical cooperation, expand cultural and educational ties, and develop cooperation in the field of peaceful nuclear energy. Russia highly appreciates the identity or similarity of Russian and Ghanaian approaches to the major issues of the international agenda, including the establishment of a more democratic polycentric world order, ensuring regional and strategic stability, disarmament, combatting international terrorism and other global challenges and threats. For citations: Kulkova O.S., Sanusi H.A. Russia-Ghana relations in the past and the present: a time-proven partnership. Vestnik RUDN. International Relations, Vol. 16, No. 2 (June 2016), pp. 296-310. Для цитирования: Кулькова О.С., Сануси Х.А. Прошлое и настоящее российско-ганских отношений: партнерство, проверенное временем // Вестник Российского университета дружбы народов. Серия «Международные отношения». - 2016. - № 2. - С. 296-310. © Kulkova O.S., Sanusi H.A., 2016

About the authors

Olga Sergeevna Kulkova

Institute for African Studies of Russian Academy of Sciences

Author for correspondence.
Moscow, Russia

Hajj Ahmed Sanusi

Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia

Moscow, Russia


  1. Afrika [Africa]: in 2 Vol., A.M. Vasilyev etc. Moscow, OOO «Izdatel'stvo Entsiklopediya», Vol.1: A-K.
  2. Arnold G., 2005. Africa: A Modern History. London: Atlantic Books.
  3. Ghana 2016. Economy. The Report. Oxford Business Group. Available at: (date of access: 15.05.2016)
  4. Ghana 2016. The Report. Oxford Business Group. Available at: (date of access: 15.05.2016)
  5. Gana: 50-letie nezavisimosti, 2007. [Ghana: 50th Anniversary of Independence]. Aziya i Afrika segodnya, no. 6.
  6. Nalbandov R., 2016. Not by Bread Alone: Russian Foreign Policy under Putin. Lincoln, NE: Potomac Books.
  7. Natufe O.I., 2011. Soviet policy in Africa: from Lenin to Brezhnev. Bloomington: iUniverse, Inc.
  8. Nemchenko V., 2007. Zolotoi yubilei v Akkre [Golden Jubilee in Accra]. Aziya i Afrika segodnya, no. 6.
  9. Nemchenko V., 2008. «God russkogo yazyka» v Universitete Gany ["Year of Russian Language" at the University of Ghana]. Aziya i Afrika segodnya, no. 6.
  10. Nemchenko V., 2009. Gana. Prezidentskie vybory 2008-2009 [Presidential election in Ghana 2008-2009]. Aziya i Afrika segodnya, no. 5, pp. 37-40.
  11. Ostrovenko E.D., 2015. Gana glazami posla SSSR (1989-1991) [Former Soviet ambassador`s reflection on Ghana]. Aziya i Afrika segodnya, no. 5.
  12. Potekhin, I.I., 1965. Stanovlenie novoi Gany. [Formation of new Ghana]. Moscow, Glavnaya redaktsiya vostochnoi literatury izdatel'stva «Nauka».
  13. Razmyslov S.S., 2015. Vneshnepoliticheskie prioritety SSSR/Rossiiskoi Federatsii v Afrike na primere Gany i Gvinei (1957-2015 gg.). [The foreign policy priorities of the USSR / Russian Federation in Africa. The example of Ghana and Guinea, 1957-2015]. Dissertatsiya na soiskanie uch.stepeni Spetsial'nost' 07.00.15 – Istoriya mezhdunarodnykh otnoshenii i vneshnei politiki. Moscow, RUDN.
  14. Vinokurov,Yu. N., 2001. Gana. Spravochnik. [Ghana Directory]. Moscow, Izdatel'skaya firma «Vostochnaya literatura» RAN, 200 p.



Abstract - 3415

PDF (English) - 664


Copyright (c) 2016 Кулькова О.С., Сануси Х.А.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

This website uses cookies

You consent to our cookies if you continue to use our website.

About Cookies