The Africa Dialogues podcast explores the big stories and trends transforming the continent today, told by decision-makers, thinkers and doers. We bring you fre... More
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China's Infrastructure Footprint in Africa with Zongxu Xie
During this episode I spoke to Zongxu Xie, researcher on African climate and water issues and joint PhD candidate at Tsinghua University and Oxford. Zongxu is actively involved in youth Belt and Road initiatives in Africa, took part in landmark Chinese infrastructure projects on the continent such as the Isimba Hydropower Station in Uganda, and makes regular visits to Africa, both for field research, as well as in the role of intermediary between Chinese and African youth and NGOs. His main areas of focus include climate change, hydrology and international relations. Zongxu and I spoke about why and what China is building in Africa, how local universities are supporting Chinese and African business ventures, ways to make social impact when running projects on the continent and why the Chinese and African stories have more in common than you'd think. Timecodes:3:17 The Belt and Road Initiative in Africa4:10 China's role at the primary infrastructure giant5:21 There's always space for partnership amongst great powers on the continent7:39 Why hydropower is key to Africa's energy security 8:43 Building the Isimba Hydrostation in Uganda 10:34 Key hurdles in Africa's leap for energy security 14:56 Business incubators for Chinese and African ventures 16:31 About the project BRI Trip and BRI Talk 19:38 Zongxu's area of research20:20 Field trips to Africa 21:42 China-Uganda relations 23:44 Zongxu's vision for the future of China-Africa relationsThis episode was recorded under the MGIMO University development programme “Priority 2030”
Information, Reputation and the Russia-Africa Summit with Daria Labutina
During this episode I spoke to Daria Labutina, journalist covering Russia’s big “Return to Africa” and member of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s journalist pool, author of the Telegram channel “Africa for Dummies”. Daria has been covering all things Africa for federal news agencies, having interviewed the prime-minister of the Central African Republic, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Mali, as well as ambassadors to Russia from other countries of the region. She has also interviewed Russian ambassadors to Angola and the Central African Republic. Perhaps most importantly, she joined and covered the visits of Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov to Africa in 2022 and 2023. During the episode, Daria and I spoke about how Russia is building its PR strategy in Africa, how the high-level Africa visits went, why many Africans still speak Russian and whether or not the soviet legacy on the continent still matters. Timecodes:2:53 Why everyone is talking about Africa 3:54 The year 2022 changed everything 5:46 Self perception and historical relations 7:26 Going to Africa with Foreign Minister Lavrov 11:28 Does the Soviet legacy in Africa still matter?13:44 Interest in Africa VS actual financial opportunities 16:11 Russia’s PR strategy in Africa 19:06 Moving from growing influence to increasing trade 21:26 Why Russia needed to work with Africa from scratch 25:46 Russian chocolate on African marketsThis episode was recorded under the MGIMO University development programme “Priority 2030”
Building Africa's Cities of the Future with Mwiya Musokotwane
During this episode I spoke to Mwiya Musokotwane, Co-Managing Partner, Co-Founder and CEO of Thebe Investment Management, a Zambian private investment firm building the new satellite town Nkwashi, one of Africa’s largest real estate development projects. Mwiya was acknowledged as one of Africa’s brightest leaders in the 2018 Forbes Africa 30 Under 30 list, co-created the Zambia Technology Sector Working Group and is helping pioneer his country’s status as a local innovation and tech hub, an initiative backed by Etherum Founder Vitalik Buterin. During out chat, Mwiya and I discussed why Africa’s story for the next decade is going to be one of urbanisation, where Zambia’s best and brightest are today, why potential for impact is higher in Africa and how the continent’s future will be determined by self-sufficiency and what Africa can do for itself.Timecodes:3:22 What you need to know about Zambia’s economy today 9:48 Becoming Africa’s next tech and innovation destination: social stability, tax incentives and simplified immigration status17:21 Where are Zambia’s best and brightest right now? 22:21 There’s still a lot to be built. Why potential for impact is higher in Africa.25:19 Why Africa’s story today is going to be one of urbanisation 29:31 Why the AfCFTA won’t work without sufficient infrastructure and tech businesses are under hyped34:48 About local business etiquette: “I’ve never been to a Zambian meeting where people say no”37:39 No space for pity and no charity case: why Africa’s future will depend on what it can do for itself
Everything You Need to Know About the Energy Situation in South Africa with Princess Mthombeni
During this episode I spoke to Princess Mthombeni, former advisor to the South African government, nuclear technology advocate and communication specialist. Princess is a regular at high-profile global events such as UN Climate Change Conferences, various International Atomic Energy Agency working formats, the Japan Atomic Industrial Forum Conference and International Atom Expo. She is also the founder of the NGO Africa4Nuclear.During our discussion, Princess and I spoke about South Africa’s current energy struggles, what some are calling the the make-or-break moment as the country’s leadership consider declaring a national state of disaster. We spoke about the 205 days of blackouts in 2022, root causes and Africa’s energy independence and sovereignty. Timecodes: 2:24 An overview of the current energy crisis in South Africa 4:18 Changes in the work of the state owned power utility Eskom and how they’re relevant to the crisis5:21 What is load-shedding?7:03 How South Africa’s situation compares to other countries of the region 9:30 Why it isn't fair to expect green energy from a continent in the midst of an energy crisis11:44 The link between energy security and geopolitical independence 13:21 The importance of communication and information campaigns when it comes to nuclear in Africa 15:13 The past 10 years of South Africa’s nuclear journey 19:57 The root causes of Africa’s energy struggles 22:00 How to work with concern over political risks when it comes to nuclear 23:36 Ways the South African governments energy stance is changing 25:43 The perception of Russian nuclear technology in Africa 29:21 Do good relations between South Africa and Russia actually affect business decisions?30:40 The importance of Africa having its own nuclear medicine hubs 33:05 Princy’s vision for the future of Africa
Doing Business in Africa with Mikhail Lyapin
Today’s guest is Mikhail Lyapin, Founder at Patron Kenya, Managing partner at the business development consulting company Exotic.vc and Author of the telegram channel about business in Africa - @Mzungugram. During our discussion, Mikhail and I touched upon the face of modern Russian business in Africa today, why he chose East Africa as the starting point for his business, why high-level agreements don't always lead to real benefit for business working on the ground and what to know when beginning your journey doing business in Africa. Timecodes1:55 The art of doing business in Africa 6:15 What different sub-regions and countries have to offer in terms of business opportunity8:13 About the concept of the Kenyan hustler nation 12:49 How protocols, documents and other results of the Russia-Africa Summit presented themselves on the ground in Africa14:20 Moving from planning to action 16:30 How the need for IT and software independence led to the success of “My Office”in Africa17:30 The main roadblocks when trying to launch your business in Africa19:17 Why the Russian way of doing business doesn't work in Africa 21:10 How technical restrictions and artificial conditions gave way to M-Pesa’s groundbreaking success 24:15 Why Africa is the next India and how laptops will solve the continent’s IT gap
The Africa Dialogues podcast explores the big stories and trends transforming the continent today, told by decision-makers, thinkers and doers. We bring you fresh perspective and new ideas on topics driving the continent’s development, from investment and agriculture to energy and innovation, with particular focus on Russia-Africa cooperation.
The podcast is hosted by the Institute for International Studies (IfIS) of MGIMO University to create a space for important conversations between Africa and Russia.