Mr Medvedev is keen to strengthen Russia's influence in Africa
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has met his Egyptian counterpart, Hosni Mubarak, in Cairo at the start of a four-day trip to Africa.
Mr Medvedev is due to sign a nuclear energy deal in Egypt, which is Russia's top trading partner in the continent.
He will later visit Nigeria, Namibia and Angola, where he will seek to promote Russian business interests, particularly in the energy sector.
The visit is part of a bid to bolster Russia's global role.
The BBC's Christian Fraser, in Cairo, said: "Today, in terms of influence, Russia lags far behind China and the US - not just in Egypt but right across the African continent, where it once had considerable influence.
"As the battle for the world's energy and mineral resources gathers pace, that weakness is one that Mr Medvedev will be keen to address."
The countries he is visiting are rich in natural resources.
Russia's economic and trade ties, as well as the Middle East peace process, were expected to be high on the agenda in talks between Mr Medvedev and Mr Mubarak.
In a statement, the Kremlin said: "The signing of an agreement on a strategic partnership between Russia and Egypt will become the central event of the Cairo summit."
Following talks, Mr Mubarak said he supported Russia's proposal for an international conference in Moscow on the Israeli-Palestinian dispute.
After his two-day visit to Egypt, Mr Medvedev will head to Nigeria, where Russia's powerful gas giant, Gazprom, wants to secure contracts to build pipelines.
In particular, the company is interested in the proposed Trans-Saharan pipeline, which would deliver Nigerian gas to Europe.
Mr Medvedev will then travel to Namibia and Angola.
The Russian president has meetings arranged with well-known African figures, including Namibia's founding father, Sam Nujoma, as well as a safari trip.