Moscow and Africa: Renaissance of Interregional Cooperation

A business session titled “International Interregional Cooperation. Economy of Opportunities” took place in St. Petersburg. The event was organized by the Department for External Economic and International Relations of Moscow as part of the 2nd Economic and Humanitarian Forum “Russia-Africa.” About 100 people participated in the event, including mayors from cities in Russia and African countries, government officials, and business representatives.

The business session was opened by Sergei Cheremin, Minister of the Moscow Government and Head of the Department for External Economic and International Relations of Moscow. In his speech, he emphasized that Moscow pays special attention to interregional relations, which have been maintained despite the changing geopolitical situation. The Minister of the Moscow City Government also highlighted the achievements of the Russian capital. “Today, Moscow is one of the most dynamically developing metropolises in the world. Recently, the city was ranked first in the UN-Habitat ratings in the categories of ‘Best City for Infrastructure Development’ and ‘Best City for Quality of Life Development.’ Moscow constantly appears on the list of the best cities in the field of digital technologies, education, and healthcare,” noted Cheremin. In conclusion, the Russian minister invited his African colleagues to visit the Moscow Urban Forum, which will take place from August 1 to September 10 this year.

Tafadzwa Muguti, representative at the Office of the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe for Provincial Development in Harare, talked about what local authorities are doing to ensure regional development. He noted that there is currently a high demand for urbanization in the province due to increased migration from rural areas. “As part of interregional cooperation, we are interested in the experience of creating a urban environment in conditions of population growth,” said Muguti. He also added that Harare faces similar challenges to Moscow: both cities experience high pendulum migration, with the number of people in the city increasing by almost twice from 2.5 million to 4.4 million during working hours. Additionally, he emphasized that Harare is interested in Moscow’s experience in the development of housing and utilities infrastructure.

Alexey Borisov, Vice President of the United Nations Association World Federation, presented the main results and conclusions of the Forum “Russia-Africa. Sustainable Urban Future: Experience Exchange and Development Cooperation for Common Goals,” organized by the Russian Association for UN Assistance (RAUN), the Moscow City Government, and MGIMO of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs with the support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia. The forum was held on June 27-28, 2023, at the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa building in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, as well as in Nairobi, Kenya, and online. He noted: “The goal of the Forum was to summarize the experience and discuss the practical aspects of cooperation in the field of sustainable development of cities and regions, trade-economic and humanitarian interaction, as well as prospects for strengthening partnership between Russia and Africa in the environmental, social, scientific-technical, and cultural spheres.”

Irina Guseva, co-chair of the All-Russian Association for Local Self-Government Development, talked about various investment projects that can be offered to partners from Africa. “We are ready to offer a range of investment projects and visit your territories together with heads of municipal entities to exchange experience,” summarized Guseva.

Sizakele Nkosi-Malobane, coordinator of the African National Congress Committees (Gauteng, South Africa), paid special attention to the development of “smart” cities, highlighting an interest in Moscow’s experience in this area. “We have made progress and we want to become the first ‘smart’ city in Africa,” Nkosi-Malobane stated. She also raised the issues of transportation infrastructure development and tourism from an economic potential perspective. “We are ready to cooperate 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 sustainable international network of cities contributes to the more harmonious development of the entire world,” emphasized Nkosinathi Malobane.The speaker was agreed with by Pavel Shevtsov, Deputy Head of Rossotrudnichestvo. He reported that Russia currently has 2,200 sister city agreements with cities around the world, while with African cities there are only 16. “It is necessary to develop this instrument of ‘people’s diplomacy’. It will give people the opportunity to learn much more about the opportunities of a particular region,” Shevtsov added.

Human resource development is an urgent issue worldwide. Entrepreneurship requires a professional workforce. The Deputy Head of Rossotrudnichestvo noted that Russia has interesting tools to address this issue. “The Russian Federation has quotas for foreign students. This year, 30,000 students from 175 countries will come to study in Russia. The quota has doubled in three years,” Shevtsov said.

During the business session, the heads of Krasnodar, Krasnoyarsk, Veliky Novgorod, and Severodvinsk also spoke. They discussed the economic possibilities of their cities and invited their African colleagues to visit their regions to consider specific projects and exchange experiences.

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