Moscow and Africa: Renaissance of interregional cooperation

A business session «International interregional cooperation. The economy of opportunity» was organized by the Department for External Economic and International Relations of Moscow within the framework of the II Economic and Humanitarian Forum “Russia-Africa”. More than 100 people took part in the event among them were mayors of Russian and African cities, officials and representatives of business circles.

Mr. Sergei Cheremin, Minister of the Moscow Government, Head of the Department in his opening speech stressed that Moscow pays special attention to interregional ties which have been preserved despite the changed geopolitical situation. The Minister of the Moscow Government also spoke about the achievements of the Russian capital. “Today Moscow is one of the most dynamically developing megacities in the world. Recently, the city was awarded the first place in the UN-Habitat ranking in the categories “Best City in terms of infrastructure development quality” and “Best City in terms of quality of life development”. Moscow is constantly included in the list of the best cities in the field of digital technologies, education and healthcare,” Cheremin said. At the end of his speech, the Russian Minister invited his African colleagues to visit the Moscow Urban Forum, which will be held this year from August 1 to September 10.

Tafadzwe Muguchi, Commissioner in the Administration of the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe for the development of Harare province, spoke on what the local authorities are doing to ensure the development of the region. He noted that today there is a high demand for urbanization in the province due to the increased migration from villages. “Within the framework of interregional cooperation, we are interested in the experience of building an urban environment in conditions of increasing population,” Muguchi said. He also added that the problems of Harare are similar to Moscow: both have high pendulum migration, when the number of people in the city during working hours increases almost twice, from 2.5 million to 4.4 million people. In addition, he stressed that Harare is interested in Moscow’s experience in the development of housing and communal services infrastructure.

Irina Guseva, co-chair of the All-Russian Association for the Development of Local Self-Government, spoke about various investment projects that can be offered to partners from Africa. “We are ready to offer a number of investment projects and visit the countries together with the heads of municipalities to exchange experience,” Guseva summed up.

Sizakele Nkosi-Malobane, Coordinator of the Committees of the African National Congress (Gauteng, South Africa), paid special attention to the development of “smart” cities, emphasizing interest in Moscow’s experience in this issue. “We have made some progress and we want to become the first smart city in Africa,” Nkosi—Malobane said. She also raised the issues of the development of transport infrastructure and tourism in terms of economic potential. “We are ready for cooperation between our cities and regions. This will help strengthen relations between States and establish a strong international partnership. Together we can solve global problems. A stable international network of cities will contribute to a more harmonious development of the whole world,” Nkosi—Malobane stressed.

Pavel Shevtsov, Deputy Head of Rossotrudnichestvo, agreed with the speaker. He said that Russia now has 2,200 twinning agreements with cities around the world, while there are only 16 with African. “It is necessary to develop this tool of “people’s diplomacy”. It will give people an opportunity to learn much more about the possibilities of a particular region,” Shevtsov added.

Personnel training is an urgent issue all over the world. The development of entrepreneurship requires a professional human resource. The deputy head of Rossotrudnichestvo noted that Russia has interesting tools to solve this issue. “The Russian Federation has quotas for international students. This year, 30,000 students from 175 countries will come to study in Russia. The quota has doubled in three years,” Shevtsov said.

The heads of Krasnodar, Krasnoyarsk, Veliky Novgorod and Severodvinsk also made a speech during the business session. They spoke about the economic opportunities of their cities and invited African colleagues to visit their regions to consider specific projects and exchange experience.

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