Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) acting together with the Ministry of Communications, Diplomatic Academy and the Institute for African Studies, plans to launch a short orientation and training programme for senior editors working in the state media organisations in Africa.
The media initiative came up as a follow up to Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s discussions during his African tour, early March, about a comprehensive strategic roadmap for a more integrated cooperation.
On May 16, Sergey Lavrov chaired the Foreign Ministry Collegium meeting on the subject “Cooperation with Sub-Saharan African countries as part of implementing important tasks of Russian foreign policy.”
The meeting noted that the strengthening ties with the Sub-Saharan African countries remained a major part of Russia’s foreign policy strategy, which was acquiring special significance in the context of changes in the global arena.
The MFA has released an official document, on its website, titled “Concept of the Russian Federation on Cooperation with African Media” underlining the need to cooperate with African media as Russia looks forward to deepening relations with the continent.
According to the MFA “the Russian Federation is implementing programmes of cooperation with various African countries which include education, culture, art, the media and sport.”
As GNA gathered in Moscow, the Russian Government supports the pilot programme and would be organised for African media groups in two phases – October and May, and planned for a two-year period, from 2018 to 2020.
The graduates from this pilot programme would be at the forefront to highlight post-Soviet economic and cultural reality and shape the African perception about Russia.
Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, this is the first significant step on media cooperation by the official authorities to address the information gap between the two regions. The initiative particularly seeks to bridge the widening business information gap that has existed and help to strengthen bilateral relations between Africa and Russia.
Canadian-Nigerian Professor O. Igho Natufe, Head of Ukraine-African Study Centre in Kiev, said looking into the future, it was important to continue approaching the relationship beyond natural resources and the economy, and to include soft power, so the move would boost the overall relationship in the long-term since the media had a huge role to play.
Frequent exchange of visits by Russian and African journalists as well as regular publications of economic and business reports could help create public business awareness and raise, to an appreciable level, the understanding of the relationship between Russia and Africa.
Dr Olga Kulkova, a Research Fellow at the Moscow based Centre for the Study of Russian-African Relations, Institute for African Studies, also noted that “more quality information about modern Russia should be reported in Africa”.
“Indisputably, it might take a lot of money and efforts, but the result will pay off.”
“It is excellent to adequately collaborate with African partners and attract Russian business to Africa. Russia ought to take this into account, if it wants to improve the chances for success in Africa,” Kulkova, added.
For decades, a number of foreign countries are cooperating with African media to push their strategic policy interests. For example, the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation has fixed China-Africa Press Exchange Centre in Shanghai to encourage and promote exchange and visits between Chinese and African media.
Last month, China held the Fourth Forum on China-Africa Media Cooperation. A joint statement on further deepening exchanges and cooperation was adopted.