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.