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Egypt’s el-Sisi seeks Africa’s political, economic integration

EGYPTIAN President Abdel Fatta el-Sisi has promised to do whatever he can to bring Africa together politically and economically.

 

In a statement issued at the end of the Africa 2017 Forum held in Sharm el Sheikh, President Sisi held two private roundtables on the sidelines of the event with other African heads of state where he pledged his commitment to develop the continent through closer integration.

 

“The Africa 2017 Forum wrapped up in the Egyptian resort city of Sharm el Sheikh with a clear message of intent from President Sisi to bring Africa closer together.

President Sisi hosted five African heads of state and top business leaders from across the continent. The Heads of State stressed on the need for self-reliance and domestic resource mobilisation. The event offered business owners with an opportunity to meet investors, engage with political leaders and policy makers and explore new ideas to improve business environment across the continent,” read the statement released to The Mast.

“In two private roundtables held on the sidelines of the event that the President held alongside other African heads of state and business leaders from Egypt and the rest of the continent, it was said that President Sisi would do whatever he could to bring the continent together, both politically and economically.”

 

The 2017 Forum had a strong focus on increasing intra-Africa trade, inclusive growth and stronger China-Africa cooperation, especially in terms of technology transfer.

 

“During the event, Egypt also has signed a deal with the World Bank for a USD $1.15 billion development policy loan to fund the government’s plan to boost economy. It is the last one in a series of three annual loans provided from 2015 to 2017 totalling USD 3.15 billion. The deal supports the Egyptian economic reform program aimed at creating jobs, ensuring energy security, strengthening public finances and enhancing business competitiveness,” the Forum stated. “The final day of the Forum focused on industrial revolution for Africa and China-Africa economic relations. It was agreed that China-Africa relationship was a win-win one.”

 

Made in Africa initiative chief executive officer ambassador Helen Hai said China had a clear strategy for Africa but the continent needs to be in the driving seat when it comes to discussions about the China-Africa relationship.

 

She said the relationship was moving on from resources to partnerships with African countries but they needed to be clear about what they wanted from China.

 

Hai said 85 million jobs were likely to be exported from China in the next few years as labour costs increased in that country and Africa was well placed to attract them. “If Africa can capture those jobs, they can enjoy the same economic transformation China had,” said Hai, according to the statement.

 

But former UNECA executive secretary and Professor of the Graduate School of Development Policy and Practice at University of Cape Town, Carlos Lopes, said it was not inevitable that the jobs would migrate to Africa.

 

He warned that many jobs that could move out of China could be replaced by robots and automation, not Africans, and that other regions would also compete for the kind of jobs that Africa seeks – those at the lower end of the value chain.

 

“A few African countries will make it, but not all,” Lopes said.

 

“This huge move to get jobs can be elusive if we are not fast enough in creating opportunities. The window is closing very fast. We need to move quickly and do so in a way that is commensurate with the interests of China’s strategy.”

 

The three-day event , organised by Egypt’s Ministry of Investment and International Cooperation and the COMESA Regional Investment Agency (RIA), saw over 2,000 delegates from 75 countries attend the Forum.

 

At the end, the Forum came up with recommendations, among them the need to pump new investments in Africa to boost economic growth and development, the establishment of joint projects, particularly in infrastructure, to support investment and trade among African states.

 

Other recommendations include enhancing the role of the African private sector to increase investment rates in the continent, the execution of programmes that encourage entrepreneurship and the adoption of programs that would increase youth’s participation in the African economy and empowering women in all fields of economic activity, considering them as active members in the process of developing Africa and achieving economic stability

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