Photo: Discussion on the role of media in Russian–African relations. Credit: Roscongress Foundation | Evgeniy Reutov. - Photo: 2019

Russia and Africa Move Towards Filling the Information Gap

By Kester Kenn Klomegah

MOSCOW, (IDN) – Russian and African communication experts have moved closer to forging collaboration in bridging the information gap between the two regions as well as fight against “anti-Russian propaganda” by western and European media in Africa.

Some of the popular questions the panelists tried answering during the two-hour long deliberations as part of the Russia-Africa Forum within the framework of the Summit on October 23-24 included:

What issues are currently being encountered in the formation of the modern media landscape? What role does the media play in Russian-African relations? What are the prospects for collaboration in the information sphere? What needs to be done to develop a Russian media agenda in Africa? What is the role and place of Russia in the information space of Africa today?

Nearly all the panelists noted precisely that western media dominates in Africa. “Often times, unique news offerings created by the Russian media simply do not make to the users and viewers in many regions, including Africa. Evidently, this vacuum gets filled with one-sided information from other players in the media market. This information can be biased, or outright hostile towards Russia and residents of other countries,” said Mikhail Bogdanov, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation and Special Presidential Representative for the Middle East and Africa.

Professor Alexey Vasiliev, Honorary President of the Institute for African Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences and Chef Editor of Asia and Africa Today Journal, told the audience: “Africa is largely unaware of Russia, since African media mainly consumes the Western sources and then replicates them. And all the fake news, the Rusophobia and anti-Russian propaganda, spread by the western media, are repeated in the African media.”

Artem Kozhin, Deputy Director, Department of Information and Press, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation pointed to the fact that “freedom of speech situation around the world is far from satisfactory. We encounter that all the time. Some Western countries break their international obligations and keep pressuring Russian media and their partners.”

“We support establishing direct contacts between the leading media outlets of Africa and Russia to develop professional dialogue, professional training, veritable information exchange, as well as sharing experiences in facing new threats and challenges,” added Artem Kozhin.

In his view, Khalil Hashimi Idrissi, Managing Director of the Maghreb Arab Press (MAP), African continent is discussed quite a bit in the media. “We have to analyze and comment on things all the time. Often times we get faulty evaluation from other sources. It turns out that information can be false, marginalized, because the players are not equal and it affects the situation,” he stressed.

Speaking on the inadequate information about Russia in Africa, Xavier Messe A Tiati, Director General, Cameroon News Agency (CAN), informed the gathering that delivering the news from Russia is still difficult. Russia does a lot with the African countries, yet it does not get sufficient coverage. Information about Russia is still insufficient, there is the need to sign agreements with agencies, or magazines, newspapers, radio and television stations so that there is more news about Russia.

Information cooperation between Russia and the African countries is very promising. “Information cooperation is far more efficient and is developing much faster than economic cooperation. Still, it is not enough. Information cooperation is very promising, and we have whole sets of these programmes,” according to Alexey Volin, Deputy Minister of Digital Development, Communications and Mass Media of the Russian Federation.

“The importance of mass media in modern life and in Russian-African relations is hard to overstate,” said Mikhail Gusman, Chairman, Russian National Committee of UNESCO’s International Programme for the Development of Communication and also the Vice-President, News Agency World Council (NACO).

Both Russian and African experts agreed that expanding Russian media network could further help play consistently key role in strengthening relations with Africa. “Affecting the one-dimensional coverage inclination of the information field can be achieved by developing the wider media network for Russia, including offices in the African countries,” suggested Russia’s Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Bogdanov. [IDN-InDepthNews, 24 October 2019]

Please click here for Kester Kenn Klomegah’s previous articles on IDN

Photo: Discussion on the role of media in Russian–African relations. Credit: Roscongress Foundation | Evgeniy Reutov.

IDN is flagship agency of the International Press Syndicate. –

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