Special presidential representative for the Middle East and Africa, Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov’s remarks at a panel session, The Role of Media in Russian-African Relations , during the Russia-Africa Economic Forum, Sochi, October 23, 2019
Mr Gusman, ladies and gentlemen,
To begin with, let me welcome the hosts and participants of the panel session, The Role of Media in Russian-African Relations, which is held as part of the Russia-Africa news agency forum on the sidelines of the first ever full-scale Russia-Africa summit. I’m convinced that an engaged discussion of Russia-Africa cooperation in the information sphere will make it possible to not only compare notes, but also, possibly, to achieve certain practical results.
Expanding multifaceted cooperation with the African continent is a key priority of Russia’s foreign policy.
We maintain traditionally friendly relations with African countries and their regional and subregional organisations based on the history of our common struggle against colonialism. We are developing trade, investment and military-technical cooperation, and participate in training national specialists. We are consistently working to strengthen the multiformat Russian-African dialogue, which we use to build bilateral relations based on mutual interests without imposing any political conditions on anyone.
I’m sure you took note of the fact that our ties expanded significantly in recent years. The talks between President Putin and the presidents of Madagascar, the Central African Republic, Rwanda, Senegal and Gabon took place in Moscow in 2018. Vladimir Putin held talks with the presidents of South Africa, Angola, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Togo on the sidelines of the 10th BRICS Summit in Johannesburg in July 2018. Also, he held talks with the presidents of Zimbabwe, Angola, Congo and Mozambique in Moscow in 2019.
Interparliamentary relations play an important role in creating a favourable climate in Russia-Africa relations. A parliamentary conference, Russia-Africa, was held in Moscow on July 2−3 as part of the Second International Forum entitled “Development of parliamentarism,” in which about 300 delegates from the African continent took part.
Regular contacts are maintained at the level of foreign ministers. Interministerial consultations are alternately held in Moscow and in African capitals as well. In 2019, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov made working trips to Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia and Egypt, during which he held talks with the leaders of these countries. That same year, he met with his Lesotho colleague in Sochi, with foreign ministers of Sierra Leone, Zambia, Angola, Cape Verde, Mali, Cote d'Ivoire, Ghana and Angola in Moscow, and foreign ministers of Botswana, Kenya and the Central African Republic in St Petersburg on the sidelines of the St Petersburg International Economic Forum.
We are paying special attention to increasing and diversifying trade and economic ties. The general view is that this possesses a fairly substantial potential. For the most part, Russian companies are widely represented in African countries in oil and gas and energy sectors, as well as in geological prospecting and mineral mining. The following companies have acquired a good reputation in Africa: Rosatom State Corporation, Rosneft, Lukoil, Rosgeologiya, Global Resources, Gazprom, RUSAL, Renova Group of Companies, ALROSA and Severstal.
Professional training of personnel is a promising sphere when it comes to cooperation. The number of African students in Russian universities is on the rise. In all there are now 17,000 African students in Russia. The education of over 4,000 of them is paid for out of the Russian federal budget.
Today, it is very important to receive reliable and unbiased information about all events taking place around the world. Regrettably, we have to say that unique news products created by the Russian media often do not ever reach a large majority of the public as well as the media in many countries, including the African continent. There is no doubt that this vacuum is filled with lopsided information produced by other media players. It is not always objective and sometimes it is hostile towards Russia and the people of many other countries.
We believe that the expansion of the foreign correspondent network of the Russian media could have a serious impact on this one-dimensional character of the international information pool in African as well as other countries.
It would be no exaggeration to say that traditionally the Russian Federation has paid a lot of attention to the consolidation of Russian-African ties in the media.
Thus, NGO TV-Novosti intends to cooperate with African news agencies in disseminating the content of the RT television channel in English and French.
RT and the Sputnik news agency (Rossiya Segodnya International Information Agency) are going to invite African journalists to upgrading courses.
Domestic companies are willing to exchange experience with their African partners in the transition to digital broadcasting and offer them Over the Top technological platforms (a method of offering video services online) for dissemination of the content of African television companies.
In turn, we intend to continue facilitating business contacts between private and government Russian and African media agencies. Russia is going to open more media outlets in African countries. We intend to provide information support, consultations and organisational assistance to the Russian as well as to the African media that open offices in Russia. Thus, we support the initiative of ITAR-TASS Director-General Sergey Mikhailov to open its offices in Nigeria, Senegal, Uganda, Ethiopia and some other countries in 2020. We believe it is worth considering an opportunity to further expand the TASS correspondent network in Africa by establishing offices in Angola, the Republic of Guinea, Tanzania and Madagascar.
I am quite sure that Russian-African cooperation in the field of information has very good prospects in the long-term.
I would like to wish every success to those taking part in the panel session and to thank you for your attention.