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‘We Have Promising Opportunities with Africa, and It Is Important to Foster Cooperation’

A Strategic Session focusing on cooperation between Russia and African countries in the sphere of higher education was held at HSE University's building on Pokrovsky Bulvar. The event was attended by representatives of HSE University, rectors of other Russian universities, and ambassadors and ministers of higher education from several African states.

During the Strategic Session initiated by the Faculty of Social Sciences and the Multilateral Strategic Projects Office, the discussion centred on strengthening and broadening cooperation in higher education and scientific research between countries of the African continent and Russia. Among the invited guests was the Minister of Higher Education and Science of the Republic of Niger, making his first visit to our country.

Victoria Panova
© HSE University

'Russia's cooperation with African countries is expanding across all areas, including the sphere of higher education,' said Victoria Panova, Vice Rector of HSE University. 'Approximately 35,000 students from Africa are currently studying at Russian universities, and this number has grown in recent years. We observe the same trends at HSE University and currently have around 300 students from 33 African countries.' The Vice Rector further observed that the most sought-after areas of study include economics, information technology, mathematics, international relations, and creative industries. 

Dmitry Pyshny
© HSE University

Dmitry Pyshny, Deputy Minister of Science and Higher Education of the Russian Federation, Professor, and Corresponding Member of the Russian Academy of Sciences, also noted the significant progress in the development of cooperation with African countries over the past few years. 'The changes taking place worldwide directly impact the realms of science and higher education, necessitating continuous updating and adaptation to the new conditions of our national economies,' he said. Therefore, according to the Deputy Minister, it is crucial to consistently monitor the implementation of joint projects and explore new promising avenues of collaboration.

'In alignment with the foreign policy concept endorsed by the Russian President in 2023, strengthening the Russian-African cooperation stands as one of our country's priorities. In this context, the Ministry of Education and Science places significant emphasis on fostering educational and scientific connections with African nations. Therefore, we continue the annual allocation of quotas for the education of citizens from African states at our universities; for the academic year 2022/23, 2,306 places were allocated, and for 2023/24, the number increased to 4,720 places,' Dmitry Pyshny stressed.

Prof. Bouréma Kansaye
© HSE University

According to Bouréma Kansaye, Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research of the Republic of Mali, his country is interested in fostering scientific cooperation with Russia, including potential transfer of expertise and technology. 'We have numerous institutes in Mali, and we maintain strong connections with educational networks across Africa and Russia. Our country holds significant prospects; therefore it is crucial for us to foster dynamic and fruitful cooperation,' the Minister said. Africa has the world's youngest population, with 90% of its inhabitants between the ages of 15 and 30. In Mali, 47% of the population is under the age of 15. 'This highlights the importance of training young people. For us, this is one of the primary challenges,' Bouréma Kansaye explained. Prof. Kansaye has first-hand knowledge of Russia, as he pursued his studies here and earned a Candidate of Sciences degree.

Prof. Saidou Mamadou
© HSE University

Saidou Mamadou, Minister of Higher Education and Science of the Republic of Niger, expressed gratitude for the invitation to participate in the Strategic Session at HSE University in Moscow. Drawing attention to the fact that his country is currently undergoing a transitional period, he stressed that partnership with Russia should have an exceptionally positive impact on both the country and its people.

'In our country, two priority areas are the education and training of specialists in engineering, as well as in science and technology, particularly in the field of energy,' according to Prof. Saidou Mamadou. 'We have large reserves of uranium, and we aim to address the issue of electricity supply in the country. In addition, we need specialists in the oil and gas industry and in medicine.' 

Dr François Havyarimana
© HSE University

Dr François Havyarimana, Minister of National Education and Scientific Research of the Republic of Burundi, expressed gratitude, like his colleagues, for the warm welcome he received in Russia. 'We are pleased to be among you to share our experience in the field of higher education. Our country would like Russian faculty members to come over to Africa, particularly to Burundi, to engage in collaborative research,' the Minister said.

Prof. Sékou Traoré
© HSE University

In Guinea, teaching is at a good level, yet steps need to be taken in the sphere of research, according to Sékou Traoré, Deputy Minister for Higher Education of the Republic of Guinea. Since 2011, Prof. Traoré has held various positions at Guinea's Ministry of Education.

'We need to advance the development of the scientific sphere and the sphere of innovation,' Prof. Traoré explained. 'We invite Russian specialists to come to work in Guinea. We aim to establish adequate laboratories so that students can apply their knowledge in practice, while also providing Russian specialists in our country with the necessary resources for university development.'

During the discussion, special emphasis was placed on the role of universities in fostering and expanding connections between Russia and Africa, highlighting the necessity for mutual studies of language and culture to ensure the success of further cooperation. The session participants expressed interest in developing programmes for learning the Russian language at African universities, as well as expanding opportunities for training in Russia conducted in various foreign languages.

According to HSE Vice Rector and Director of the BRICS Expert Council Victoria Panova, a positive image of both Russia and Russian education has been formed in African countries over the years. 'This serves as an excellent foundation upon which we can and should strengthen partnerships and implement joint large-scale educational projects of strategic importance. Such cooperation can take place in the framework of bilateral relations as well as multilateral formats,­­' Victoria Panova said. She added that this year, Russia will host a series of educational events as part of its BRICS presidency. 'We intend to actively engage our African partners in these events, both in the BRICS format and in the BRICS+ format. This May, we will be hosting the BRICS Academic Forum, and in September, the BRICS+ International School with the participation of young African leaders. We invite all interested parties to attend,' the Vice Rector stressed.

During the Strategic Session, further steps were outlined aimed to strengthen cooperation across various formats. Thus, rectors of African universities will attend the anniversary 25th Yasin (April) International Academic Conference on Economic and Social Development to be held in Moscow from April 23 to 26, 2024.

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