Russian Government and HSE University to Help with Digitalisation of African Countries

02 October 2023

The Russian-African E-Governance Knowledge Sharing Program in the Field of Public Administration Digitalisation in African Countries, which is being implemented by HSE University’s Centre for African Studies, will be partially state-financed. The subsidy will be provided by the Russian government in accordance with the corresponding order signed on September 21.

Previously, the implementation of the programme was supported by the Ministry of Digital Development, the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Office of the Russian President for Foreign Policy of the Presidential Administration, and the Administrative Directorate of the President of the Russian Federation.

Andrey Maslov

Coordinator of the programme and Director of HSE University’s Centre for African Studies

‘Continuing professional development for top and middle-level managers in Africa is the most important government task we are embarking upon. The programme involves joint research and expert analysis aimed at long-term development strategies for our partner countries.’

By supporting the programme, the government is making an important contribution to promoting international development. ‘Notably, this is direct assistance provided on a bilateral basis and with a clear-cut result visible to everyone,’ explains Andrey Maslov.

The centre’s programme was launched in partnership with Innopraktika in 2022. Its aim is to improve the skills of top and middle-level civil servants in African countries by utilising the accumulated experience of countries with a higher level of public service digitalisation. This primarily involves Russia, as well as other leaders of digitalisation within the continent and beyond.

Valentin Bianki

Deputy Coordinator of the Program

‘It is obvious to all government agencies that the leading position in the IT sector implies expanding Russia’s capabilities to build a multipolar world. For Africa, digitalisation is one of the main ways to move from the ‘constantly catching up’ concept of sustainable development to advanced development. This is because it is quick and rather inexpensive to implement. For Russia, this is not just a potential market for intellectually intensive products and services, but a long-term political task to build close ties with new generations of African elites.’

A number of expert events have already taken place under the programme, including the round table ‘Russia—Africa: Knowledge Exchange and Digitalisation in the Field of Public Administration,’ which was held at HSE University within the framework of the XXIV Yasin (April) International Academic Conference on Economic and Social Development on April 11, 2023.

However, the first stage of work was the launch of the e-Governance Knowledge Hub analytical portal, where employees of the Centre for African Studies publish passports for the digitalisation of public administration on the continent, analyse the main challenges, and propose possible solutions to them. The presentation of the portal took place on July 27–28 in St Petersburg at the second Russia-Africa Economic and Humanitarian Forum. The website, which was developed with the participation of leading public administration specialists and experts from Irkutsk State Medical University, is already available to users and will be updated on a regular basis.

Thanks to governmental support, information events and training sessions are to be held in 2023–2024 both in African countries and at HSE University. Representatives of relevant authorities in African countries will be able to learn in detail about the latest digitalisation practices, both in person and online.

‘When developing educational and analytical modules of the programme, the HSE University team of experts engages the largest Russian IT companies with experience in implementing projects in the field of e-government services,’ emphasises Valentin Bianki. ‘We expect that the E-Governance Knowledge Sharing Program will combine the high level of Russian knowledge in public administration digitalisation and the equally high demand for digitalisation across African countries.’