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Russia To Train Africans in ‘Post-Colonial’ Mineral Science

Russia has made a major commitment to develop the cognitive infrastructure of the African continent in the Mendeleyev tradition, through cooperative agreements with African universities and the Empress Catherine II St. Petersburg Mining University. Officially referred to as the “Nedra of Africa” (“Subsoil of Africa”) consortium, the agreement was signed at the Africa Seeks Solutions congress, which had “150 participants from 48 African countries” in attendance, from Dec. 10-15, according to RT on Dec. 15. Coverage by the (Nigerian) Punch adds that “130 organizations from 42 African countries” will host instruction centering on developing an African cadre of mineral science experts.

From the start of the summit, the theme was the coming of a new era of resource development on the continent, free from the legacy of colonialism. A statement from Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov set the stage. “Today the St. Petersburg Mining University offers a new level of scientific and educational interaction with Africa,” Lavrov said, according to RT. “I am confident that the engineering and management personnel trained through this project will contribute to the control of African countries over the extraction and development of their own mineral resources and to effective State regulation of environmental management.”

Speaking after the signing, Nigerian Prof Paul Omaji, the Vice-Chancellor Admiralty University of Ibusa, who will serve as President of the new Subsoil of Africa Consortium of Higher Education Institutions, expressed the same optimistic outlook. In a posting on “Forpost,” the Russian Mining Museum website, Omaji said, “I keep talking about the great paradox that we have to solve. It is that we are walking on untold riches lying in our bowels, but we cannot escape poverty. We do not need half-measures, we need a solution that will allow us to take a leap forward and turn the situation around. The establishment of the Russian-African Consortium of Higher Education Institutions is the most important mechanism to achieve this great goal.”

Ultimately, as emphasized in the signing statement, “The consortium aims to address challenges in the African education system, emphasizing a shift from an agrarian to an industrial economic model.”