Innovation Space Programme Kicks Off with Discussion of Cross-Border Business Opportunities

The session “Innovation Without Borders: New Cross-Border Business Opportunities” opened the business programme of the Roscongress Foundation’s Innovation Space at the Russia–Africa Economic Forum. The project is being implemented as part of the Building Trust Area.

The Building Trust Area is a unique platform that unites two of the Roscongress Foundation’s projects – the Innovation Space and the Innosocium LAB, which aim to map out the social agenda and build a dialogue between participants in the innovation and social ecosystem. The programme operator is the Innosocium Foundation – the social platform of the Roscongress Foundation.

The session devoted to innovations was held with the support of RBC. It was moderated by RBC channel presenter Sergey Krasnov.

All the discussion participants noted that the current stage of economic development and the political situation on the African continent create unique opportunities for business development, including high-tech business. The fact that many countries are starting from scratch is also an advantage since upgrading old equipment and technologies is often more expensive and time-consuming than using advanced technologies right away.

Nataliya Zaiser, Chair of the Board of the African Business Initiative Union, noted that the digital economy is one of the key areas for cooperation between Russia and African countries, however such cooperation should not be solely limited to technological solutions. It is crucial to encompass broad social processes, including those related to the development of education. “Russia should promote its strengths, namely projects in the energy sector, transport, and logistics. And, of course, we need to pay attention to the development of human capital in order to educate the future generation and the skilled professionals who will continue to use these innovative technologies”, she said.

Suren Vardanyan, Vice President of the Moscow Chamber of Commerce and Industry, echoed this sentiment. He said Russian specialists should work together with trained local personnel. It is essential to involve residents of Africa as teachers since they are well aware of the mentality and customs of their countries, he said.

Adeniyi Adebayo, Yandex.Taxi Development Director in Africa, said that strategies for entering various markets are very different and not only depend on technical parameters, but also on the mentality and even language. Yandex.Taxi has already launched its services in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire. In each country, about twenty partner companies are involved in the project, and Yandex.Taxi prefers to send specialists from Russia. Adebayo said the project was a success largely due to support from “the big Yandex, which has different skills”.

For his part, Dmitry Komissarov, CEO of New Cloud Technologies, which develops packaged office applications, said that his company has already signed contracts in Burundi and Congo. The rapid population growth on the continent, where the population is close to a billion, and the proliferation of mobile phones make Africa a priority for the company.

Another participant in the session, New Technologies CEO Alexey Logashev, also shared this opinion. His company works with alternative energy sources, including their production from garbage, as well as waste management technologies. In the near future, New Technologies plans to sign agreements with representatives of 12 African countries, and this is just the start.

Summing up the discussion, Moscow Chamber of Commerce and Industry President Vladimir Platonov noted that Russia and Africa cannot be viewed as a teacher-student relationship because “these are partnerships whose development helps both sides”.

The Russia–Africa Summit and Economic Forum are being held on 23–24 October in Sochi at the Sirius Park of Science and Art. The events are being organized by the Roscongress Foundation, and the co-organizers of the Russia–Africa Economic Forum are Russian Export Center and Afreximbank.

A detailed version of the Building Trust Area programme can be viewed here.

Gazprom is the general partner and Aksioma is the partner of the Innovation Space at the Russia–Africa Economic Forum.

To participants in the Russia–Africa Economic Forum

Ladies and gentlemen,

It gives me great pleasure to welcome you at the opening of the Russia–Africa Economic Forum.

The rich history of relations between Africa and Russia has never seen an event of a similar scale. Members of government agencies and business community, and experts are meeting at this Forum to substantively discuss the current status and prospects of cooperation and a wide range of topical issues of the world economy.

Today, the countries of Africa are well on their way towards social, economic, scientific and technological development, and are playing a significant role in international affairs. They are strengthening mutually beneficial integration processes within the African Union and other regional and sub regional organizations across the continent.

In recent years, the traditionally friendly ties of partnership between Russia and Africa have gained new momentum, both at a bilateral level and in various multilateral formats. In addition to preserving our past experience of successful cooperation, we have also managed to make significant new steps forward. Trade and investment are growing dynamically, and new joint projects are under way in extractive industries, agriculture, healthcare, and education. Russian companies are ready to offer their scientific and technological developments to their African partners, and share their experience of upgrading energy, transport and communications infrastructures.

I hope that the Forum will help identify new areas and forms of cooperation, put forward promising joint initiatives that will bring the collaboration between Russia and Africa to a qualitatively new level and contribute to the development of our economies and the prosperity of our peoples.

I wish the Forum’s participants fruitful work and all the best.

Vladimir Putin

The Russia–Africa Summit, which is taking place in Sochi on 23–24 October 2019, encapsulates the historically friendly relations between the African continent and the Russian Federation. This Summit carries great significance as it is the first of its kind to emerge during a period of major global and international transformations. In response to the aspirations of the people it is representing, the Summit intends to build a comprehensive framework for expanding Russian–African relations into broader horizons of joint cooperation across different fields.

The African nations and Russia share a common understanding of international relations, based on the principles of respect for the rule of international law, equality, non-interference in the internal affairs of states, and the peaceful resolution of disputes. Both sides affirm their commitment to support multilateral actions to oppose new international threats, be they terrorism and extremism in all their forms, or declining growth rates. The two sides share a firm conviction regarding the importance of developing trade flows and supporting mutual investment in such a way as to ensure security, peace and development for the African and Russian people.

African countries have huge potential and opportunities that will allow them, once efforts to streamline their economies have been achieved, to emerge as real global players. In recent years, the nations of this continent have achieved major successes spanning the political, economic, social and administrative spheres. Africa has flourished in terms of growth over the past decade, reaching a continent-wide growth rate of 3.55% in 2018.

The African Union Summit, which was held in Niger in July 2019, continued the efforts of the African countries and saw the African Continental Free Trade Agreement come into force, along with its operational instruments. The agreement is one of the key objectives of Agenda 2063, an African development strategy that has been created to address the African people’s desire for prosperity and decent living standards.

These successes are opening up wide-ranging prospects for cooperation between African countries and the Russian Federation, and confirm the determination of African governments and their people to cooperate with multiple partners in order to establish mutually beneficial relations.

With this in mind, we express our hopes that the Russia–Africa Summit will help in the establishment of constructive strategic relations, based on partnership between two sides across various fields, and in the service of fulfilling the hopes and aspirations of the African people and their friends in Russia.

President of the Arab Republic of Egypt
Abdelfattah ALSISI