Alrosa PJSC, one of the world’s top diamond miners, is returning to crisis-stricken Zimbabwe, the latest example of Russia expanding its footprint in Africa.
The company will develop new mining operations with the support of the government, Alrosa said Monday as Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa visited Moscow to try and raise investment for his economically blighted nation. In Mnangagwa’s absence, protests against his government’s economic mismanagement intensified, with 24 injured on Monday and five possibly dead.
Mnangagwa, who became president in 2017, sees diamonds as one way to help revive his nation’s mining industry, which suffered years of decline under his predecessor Robert Mugabe. The government is considering waiving a rule that has prevented foreign investors from holding controlling stakes in its diamond mines, as it targets production of 12 million carats by 2023, up from 3.5 million carats last year.
From Libya to Madagascar, Russia has been carving out a niche in Africa in part by shoring up strongmen in unstable but potentially rich states. The Kremlin has made the region a focus of its efforts to reassert geopolitical prowess and open new markets for domestic companies hamstrung by Western sanctions.
President Vladimir Putin will host more than 50 leaders from the continent for the first Russia-Africa summit this year. Alrosa opened an office in Zimbabwe last month, Chief Executive Officer Sergey Ivanov said at a press conference.
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