PIR Center conducted an expert seminar on “High-Tech Renaissance in Sub-Saharan Africa: Challenges and Opportunities for Russia” 

November 23, 2023

MOSCOW. NOVEMBER 23, 2023. PIR PRESS. “The region now has favorable conditions for expanding Russia’s presence within the national high-tech markets, which had been also demonstrated during the recent Russia-Africa Summit. Concerning the state’s media image, the Russian presence looks quite balanced — there is no influence of “colonial discourse,” and there are no fears of forming “debt traps,” yet there are some constraining factors, e.g., intense sanctions pressure,” — Mr. Leonid Tsukanov, Consultant of the PIR Center Global & Regional Security: New Ideas for Russia Program. 

On November 16, 2023, PIR Center held an expert seminar on “High-Tech Renaissance in Sub-Saharan Africa: Challenges and Opportunities for Russia” in frames of the Midweek Brainstorming Sessions

Mr. Leonid Tsukanov, Consultant of the PIR Center Global & Regional Security: New Ideas for Russia Program, presented the results of his research on the potential of the Sub-Saharan African States in high-tech, as well as the prospects for cooperation with Russia in the field. 

While opening the event, Dr. Vladimir Orlov, Founding Director of PIR Center and Professor at MGIMO University, addressed the participants and guests of the seminar with a welcoming speech. He emphasized the agenda’s relevance and timeliness and expressed the growing interest in studying African states’ high-tech development. Dr. Orlov also highlighted the differences in high-tech growth between regional countries and shared his practical experience of observing the development of modern technologies there. 

At the beginning of the presentation, Mr. Leonid Tsukanov paid particular attention to the phenomenon of the technological renaissance, which implies the return of Sub-Saharan Africa to the idea that the region can and should develop technologically independently. Then, he addressed the positions of the states under analysis and assessed the prospects for Russia’s integration into the regional countries’ high-tech industries, possible competitors of Moscow in this area, and the potential of interstate cooperation. 

Based on the research results, Mr. Leonid Tsukanov addressed the situation in the field of high technologies in Mauritius, Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa, DRC, Ethiopia, Namibia, and other countries. In particular, the author considered the issues of digital security and the role of private business in the area; the digital technology market and the phenomenon of the predominance of high-tech solutions from China and the United States; the cryptocurrency market and the problems of its regulation; the field of robotics, largely dependent on foreign technologies and personnel; the use of “green” energy, etc. 

In addition, Mr. Leonid Tsukanov touched upon the issue of cooperation between the Sub-Saharan African states and Russia. He noted the unique role of the recent Russia-Africa Summit, which led to the growth of mutual interest, the signing of bilateral and multilateral agreements, and the launch of investment projects. Mr. Tsukanov also spoke on the current involvement of the Russian Federation in the high-tech industries of the studied countries, promising areas and formats of future cooperation, obstacles to strengthening partnership, and assessed the media image of Russia in the region based on a sociological survey conducted. 

At the end of the seminar, an intense discussion took place. In particular, the comments and questions were addressed by Dr. Vladimir Orlov, Founding Director of PIR Center and Professor at MGIMO University; Dr. Vadim Kozyulin, Head of the Center for Global Studies & International Organizations of the Institute for Contemporary International Studies of the Diplomatic Academy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, member of PIR Center Executive Board; Mr. Igor Vishnevetsky, independent expert; Ms. Olesya Laricheva, Chief editor of DFNC Journal; and Ms. Ksenia Mineeva, PIR Center Information program Coordinator. 

As a scientific advisor, Dr. Vladimir Orlov made a detailed expert comment on the author’s work. Thus, the Founding Director of PIR Center noted the high quality and substantive richness of the report and outlined possible trajectories for further research and analytical work, in particular, stressed the importance of a more detailed study of cooperation between Russia and the states of the region in the field of high technologies. Dr. Vadim Kozyulin, in turn, stressed the consistency of the analysis presented by Mr. Leonid Tsukanov and noted the need for further research of the cryptocurrency market within the agenda under discussion to understand the interaction of the Russian Federation with the regional states in this area. In addition, he recalled the importance of studying local legislation and the interaction between States and the private sector at the local and regional levels. Mr. Igor Vishnevetsky paid particular attention to Sub-Saharan Africa’s political and economic renaissance. The expert recalled the mechanisms, regimes, and principles of foreign trade and export control that exist in the context of security threats to prevent high-tech industries’ products from falling into the wrong hands. The seminar participants also touched upon the development of nuclear energy and practical initiatives that Russia could take to strengthen cooperation with the countries of Sub-Saharan Africa. 

The record of the expert seminar is available on the PIR Center educational platform NONPROLIFERATION.WORLD (In Russian). 

The research has been done in frames of implementing the PIR Center and MGIMO University joint project “Global Security, Strategic Stability, and Arms Control” under the auspices of the Priority-2030 Strategic Academic Leadership Program. 

The research results will be partly presented in the course Science and Technology Policies of Sub-Saharan Africa and the Persian Gulf States, elaborated by PIR Center in consortium with MGIMO University, as part of the PIR Center-MGIMO project Global Security, Strategic Stability, and Arms Control under the Priority-2030 Strategic Academic Leadership Program. 

If you have any questions about PIR Center Midweek Brainstorming Sessions, please contact Ms. Elena Karnaukhova, PIR Center Deputy Director-Education & Training Program Director, via email edu@pircenter.org. 

Key words: Modern Technology; Africa