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Creating a New Quality of Life in Africa
24 October 2019
13:00—14:30
KEY CONCLUSIONS
Improving Africa’s quality of life is a complex challenge

The topic of improving the quality of life on the African continent is extensive and diverse. It covers all areas, including those that we traditionally refer to as improving the quality of life: health, education and culture, as well as those that are usually somewhat neglected: personal initiative and opportunities for it, possibilities to work in good conditions, and a favourable environment — Andrey Sokolov, Deputy Chief Executive Officer, TASS Russia.

African countries should focus on domestic resources

Improve living standards in Africa is a new cluster of challenges – let's call them innovative. The first challenge is to avoid foreign loans for catching up with developed Western countries in terms of technology, as loans lead to increased debt bondage and economic instability. They should use the experience of China and other self-reliant countries that draw upon their own economic growth. Participation in new formats for international cooperation, such as BRICS+ needs to be ensured, as well as overcoming the mentality of dependency and developing national consciousness — Vladimir Yurtaev, Professor, Department of Theory and History of International Relations, Peoples' Friendship University of Russia.

I am confident that solutions to many of Africa's problems lie within the African continent itself — Dirk Badenhorst, Director, Mzansi Ballet.

Russian business invests social efforts in Africa

When working in Africa, it is important to help the local population understand why our business is important and what good things we bring in their lives. <...> Over the 10 years that we work in Africa, we have built about 100 schools, providing access to education in Burkina Faso and Guinea. In Guinea, we have built several clinics, so our employees and their families have access to free healthcare and medications. We have created over 3,000 jobs with competitive salaries in Africa. We are training young people to give them professions that will be in demand in the local job market. 1,600 employees got qualification through our multi-profession programmes — Evgeny Tulubenskiy, Chief Legal Officer, Corporate and Regulatory Affairs, Member of the Board of Directors, Nordgold.

NPOs promote development of entrepreneurship and improvement of living standards in Africa

Africa has a <...> foundation that has allocated about 100 million for local entrepreneurship, created 1 million jobs and generated about USD 1 billion in profits for the African economy. This is an entrepreneurial programme that educates our own entrepreneurs who will not leave but will stay on the continent. There is a programme of the British Council called Entrepreneurial Africa that aims to create a culture of entrepreneurship through competitions, mentoring programmes and forums. It helps African countries cooperate with other ones. The third part encompasses youth programmes, which create jobs and provide training — Namukale Chintu, Senior Director, EFG Private Bank Limited.

Fifteen years ago, I founded a non-profit organization that aims to improve living standards. We run an aid programme in Rwanda. <...> Our goal is not only to feed the hungry, but also to give people the opportunity to stand on their own feet so that they can support themselves. Through our programme, many young people in Rwanda have skills that enable them to feed their families and participate in the country's development: they pay taxes and contribute to a pension fund — Jan Berkmans, President, Global Help to Heal Inc.

ISSUES
Russia is poorly informed about Africa

Many do not work with Africa not because they do not want to, but because they do not have the knowledge — Tatiana Semenenko, Head, Francotheque Cultural Center, Margarita Rudomino All-Russia State Library for Foreign Literature.

Africa has no adequate access to education

More than 53% of Zambia's population is under 18 years of age. 83% of children do not have a birth certificate. 50% of children do not get sufficient food, water, healthcare or education. 800,000 Zambian children do not have access to education — Iosif Timchenko, Founder, Voskhod.

SOLUTIONS
Expanding opportunities for African young people to get education locally and in Russia

We have an example of underestimated integration – it's the student community. If African students had the opportunity to work in Russia, then they would return to Africa as representatives of Russia and would be able to work in places whose mentality they already know. These people are already becoming carriers of our own Russian culture, but this tool is not used enough — Tatiana Semenenko, Head, Francotheque Cultural Center, Margarita Rudomino All-Russia State Library for Foreign Literature.

It is necessary to organize language courses to prepare those who are going to study in Russia. A year-long course in Africa would help African students come to Russia prepared. It is necessary to establish and expand the network of vocational schools in Africa. This would attract young people, encourage them to get a profession and participate in the development of the country — Jan Berkmans, President, Global Help to Heal Inc.

An African e-University is now being established as a space for the development of education in Africa. It is necessary to provide African scientists an access to depositories and data storage systems, as well as target professional development of African specialists at Russia’s innovative enterprises — Vladimir Yurtaev, Professor, Department of Theory and History of International Relations, Peoples' Friendship University of Russia.

There is a need to establish branches of Russian universities in Africa, maybe to create a Russian-African polytechnic university. In a number of African countries there is a lack of vocational schools, and Russia should take part in this process — Kirill Aleshin, Group Leader, Centre for Global and Strategic Strudies, Institute of African Studies.

Involving business in implementing educational programmes

One of the main companies in this field is Rosatom, which operates in Egypt, Rwanda, Zambia and provides scholarships to locals. This is key not only to improving living standards, but also to stimulating entrepreneurial activity, to reducing crime rate and regional conflicts. <...> Emigration from Africa can be reduced by providing the population with the opportunity to study in Russian educational programmes. It is necessary to attract talented African young people to work on joint research projects in Russia — Kirill Aleshin, Group Leader, Centre for Global and Strategic Strudies, Institute of African Studies.

Involving children in arts and sports

I set up a football camp for slum children in Zambia. <...> More than 150 children have gone through it over the past six months <...> We have provided humanitarian support for some families, and they receive food from us — Iosif Timchenko, Founder, Voskhod.

Through ballet, children no longer spend time outside, they do not get to try drugs, we reduce the level teenage pregnancies – in South Africa it is a very serious problem, and through ballet we can solve it. <...> Thanks to our programme, we can improve the quality of life for children in Africa. We can physically take many of them out of poverty — Dirk Badenhorst, Director, Mzansi Ballet.

Getting Russian and African people better informed about their lives

It is necessary not only to tell about the African heritage around the world, but also share information it in Russia. A lot of people in Russia do not know much about Africa and its culture. It seems as if Africa is a continent of problems, but it is impossible to agree with it: Africa is a continent of opportunities — Kirill Aleshin, Group Leader, Centre for Global and Strategic Strudies, Institute of African Studies.

A consistent and comprehensive approach to organizing humanitarian cooperation

It is necessary to support alumni of Russian universities in Africa. The possibility for Russia to support these associations is another level of cooperation, as it has already invested a lot in these people. It is necessary to establish Russian language and culture centres in Africa to attract young people — Jan Berkmans, President, Global Help to Heal Inc.

In the wake of this Forum, it makes sense to consider holding a Russia–Africa Youth Forum to enhance humanitarian cooperation and make it a regular event every two or three years — Kirill Aleshin, Group Leader, Centre for Global and Strategic Strudies, Institute of African Studies.

The material was prepared by the Russian news agency TASS