Russia promotes cooperation with Africa
A Russia and Africa conference has called for an increase in the number of government scholarships and grants for the training of specialists for Africa as a significant part of developing and building trust in the current Russian-African relations.
The conference, which was an initiative by the Russian government to promote a unifying constructive agenda between African countries and Russia, was hasiled as a positive move that would help build mutual understanding and trust, among different countries.
More than 800 African parliamentarians, academic researchers, experts and media personnel from over 130 countries attended the conference in Moscow, recently.
During the Russia-Africa conference, the chairperson of the State Duma, Mr Viacheslav Volodin, was also convinced that cultural, educational and humanitarian cooperation could be equally important areas needed to be developed and intensified in the current Russian-African relations.
Mr Volodin further suggested the need to discuss the issues of harmonizing legislation in the scientific and educational spheres.
Participating countries were also informed that hundreds of thousands of African students studied in the Soviet Union and Russia, and now 17 000 African students, majority of them on private contracts, were studying in the Russian Federation.
Botswana has also benefitted from the fruitful cooperation existing between the two countries in a variety of fields, particularly in human resource development. Furthermore, Russia is still offering more scholarship in key sectors such as health.
“Taken into account that the Pan-African University, which brings together leading universities in Africa, has been created, new opportunities are opening up for cooperation with large Russian universities. Educational exchange can become multilateral,” said Mr Volodin.
“It is necessary to provide legislative support for Russian language learning programs, including the training of Russian teachers from African countries, he said.
To show how much importance the Russia Federation attaches to the conference, the Russian President Vladimir Putin, also graced the occasion and welcomed delegates, emphasising the need to overcome the enormous inequality in the development of different regions in the world and the migration crisis triggered by that inequality.
President Putin also highlighted that promoting sustainable development, making education and healthcare more accessible, strengthening human capital, resolving environmental problems, implementing digitisation and upgrading the labour market were priorities for the entire international community.
The Russian President said, “The modern world badly needs broad cooperation. Its global agenda is complex and controversial. It is filled with great challenges and real threats that do actually exist,
the answers to which can and will be effective only if these threats are recognised by the entire international community, and if the states wish to discuss and find joint solutions to common challenges in a rapidly changing world.”
He was also of the view that the modern world transformation to multi-polarity was already obvious, adding that ‘at the same time, the stubborn unwillingness of some countries to accept this new reality results in an increased confrontation in the world, ignoring international law, and undermining strategic stability. All this hinders collaboration’.
Furthermore, he said, “I am confident that refocusing the discussion of the updated global development model on concepts such as sovereignty and peoples’ right to adhere to their original path would enable us to reach feasible agreements and international forums and summits would adopt not only declarations but also binding rules based on the interests of all states and their mutual responsibility.”
Some participating African countries also made observations and suggestions regarding the Russia/Africa conference geared towards exploring prospects of joint work in different areas.
In his presentation, the president of the National Assembly of Djibouti, Mohamed Ali Houmed said,” After several years of decreasing connections, Russia is triumphantly returning to the African continent. And let its return be active because our Russian friends have a whole series of proposals within the framework of economic cooperation.
There are also proposals in the field of education, infrastructure development, tourism, and many other areas and I believe that Russia should continue to promote its initiatives in the field of education with African countries.”
Meanwhile, the chairperson of the National Council of Namibia, Ms Margaret Mensah-Williams, highlighted the previous educational assistance from Russia and also stressed the impact of the huge number of doctors and other specialists in their country who studied during the Soviet time and now in the Russian Federation.
“These worthy efforts have always translated further into greater development”, she said further appealing to the Russian authorities to maintain that appreciable level of socio-cultural and humanitarian assistance to African countries.
From Kenya, the Speaker of the Senate, Mr Kenneth Lusaka said, “Our interaction and cooperation in the area of culture, science and art is necessary to guarantee future generations life in peace; that makes the role of parliamentarians extremely important here.”He also thanked Russia for strong support in the educational sphere and for scholarships for students who have the opportunity to study in Russia.
“We still need Russia’s support in the development of new technologies and education sphere,” he said. The Speaker of the National Assembly of Zambia, Dr Patrick Matibini said the conference on Russia – Africa conference would help Russia to develop multifaceted relations with the entire African continent.
Dr Matibini emphasised the need to intensify bilateral cooperation in areas of education, medicine, technology and agriculture.
Russia’s keenness in building ties with African countries dates back to the Cold War era, when the Russians provided diplomatic, economic, military and educational support to numerous African liberation struggle movements. It also helped in the establishment of African countries’ national industries and development of human resources, as many young Africans were educated in Moscow.
Strengthening all aspects of relations with African countries, including humanitarian and trade and economic cooperation, is now the priority for Russia. Russia is becoming a dominant player in this strategic continent through investment in energy and minerals. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, the country is assisting in the fight against Ebola.
Through such initiative, Russia/Africa Conference; it shows Russia’s readiness to promote comprehensive security and economic solutions for the continent.
Still in the framework of the conference, the following Round Tables were held: “Sustainable Management of Natural Resources and Community Development: Legislative Framework for Extractive Industry Companies,” and “Exchange of Legislative Experience of Russia and African countries in the regulation of New Sectors: Digital Technologies, Innovations and Communications.”
In other thematic sessions, delegates discussed issues such as ‘Russian/African Humanitarian Cooperation: Parliamentary Dimension’ and ‘Legislative Support of Trade and Economic Cooperation between Russia and African countries.’In its quest to further play a key role in Africa, Russia will host the first Russia/Africa Business Forum in Sochi in October, this year.