SA News, Sputnik ink cooperation pact

Pretoria - The South African Government News Agency (SAnews) and Russia’s Sputnik News Agency have signed an agreement that will see the two agencies cooperate in a number of areas, including news exhange.

The agreement was signed on Tuesday in Pretoria during a working visit by the Russian Vice Minister of Telecom and Mass Communications, Alexey Volin, who is being hosted by Communications Minister Faith Muthambi.

The agreement will see the two news agencies developing a bilateral professional relationship in information sharing as they strengthen cooperation between South Africa and Russia as part of the Intergovernmental Committee on Trade and Economic Cooperation (ITEC).

ITEC, which has sub-committees, is a structured bilateral mechanism between South Africa and Russia. Since 1999, it has proven to be an effective instrument in contributing directly to improved two-way trade and investment, as well as critical skills development and technology exchanges between the two countries.

The agreement signed today will also provide exchange programmes for the two countries’ journalists. Such a partnership, which denotes a professional cooperation in the media environment, also holds the purpose of strengthening collaboration between the two countries.

This agreement is key as both countries fall under association of the five major emerging economies - Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS).

It will benefit not only the two countries but the BRICS network as they try to fit into the patterns of information flow in the global media. It will also pave the way for both countries to better understand each other and provide insights into complex developments, history, traditions and culture, which has been a call from the BRICS leaders.

The agreement was signed by South Africa’s Government Communication and Information System (GCIS) Acting Director General, Donald Liphoko, while Russia was represented by Vasily Vladimirovich, head of International Projects Centre for the Sputnik News Agency.

Both sides described the signing of the agreement as a crucial moment for both countries and a great opportunity to bolster joint communication.

GCIS’s Liphoko said the agreement will strengthen the BRICS partnership.

“This is not just operational but it is also politically symbolic. It represents the ties that we want to forge between our respective agencies,” said Liphoko.

Liphoko hoped for more interactions with the Russians in order to build on the mutual relationship, which will allow both countries to prosper within the BRICS network.

“We are looking forward to implementing many of the key issues we talked about when South Africa chairs BRICS. Our role is going to follow through all of this.”

Vladimirovich said the cooperation will be a smooth ride as both agencies have the same goal: give audiences broader access to professional, quality and up-to-date information.

“We have been working [together for] long in BRICS and I can say every country we have worked with has its own drawbacks and [good] sides … But when it comes to South Africa, I can safely say the communication process is the easiest and for us that will be a smooth ride,” said Vladimirovich.

This is SAnews’ first cooperation agreement with a Russian media outlet. However, the agency has similar agreements with other news agencies and hopes this cooperation will be just as fruitful.

SAnews, which is published by the GCIS, provides up-to-date government news and information to community and mainstream media, locally and abroad.

Sputnik is a modern multimedia news agency with hubs in dozens of countries. It points the way to a multipolar world that respects every country’s national interests, culture, history and traditions.

- SAnews.gov.za