President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi chairs the meeting of the AU Peace and Security Council in Addis Ababa on January 28, 2018- press photo
CAIRO - 9 February 2019: In December 2017, Egypt was elected during a closed meeting on AU institutional reform to chair the African Union Assembly of Heads of State and Government for a year starting February 10.
President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi has already headed to the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa to receive the chairmanship from his Rwandan counterpart Paul Kagame.
President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi posing for a group photo prior to the opening of the High-Level Forum Africa-Europe in Vienna, Austria. December 18, 2018. Press Photo
Since he was first elected to office, the Egyptian president has been reiterating the continent’s rights, and its importance to his country. In his speech at the High-Level Forum Africa-Europe in Vienna, President Sisi stated in December that “Egypt is proud of its affiliation to Africa.”
The beginning of Sisi’s rule
In his inauguration speech in 2014, the president said, “The advantages a nation has are not just blessings taken for granted. They require a double effort to be maintained and developed. Egypt, the cradle of civilization, was given by God many blessings. Its geography is a mobile history, and its history is a geography that lies in Egypt which is pharaonic by birth and civilization, Arab by language and culture, and African by roots and presence.”
FILE - President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi taking the oath of office before the board of the Supreme Constitutional Court in Cairo, Egypt. June 8, 2014.
“Egypt is the continental pioneer of independence from colonization. I tell anyone who attempts to dissociate it from its African reality that you cannot separate the soul from the body. Egypt is African in terms of presence and life. I tell Egyptians whose civilization was built upon the banks of the Nile River, I will never allow the issue of the Renaissance Dam to create a crisis or a problem, or to be an impediment against developing Egyptian ties with both Africa and Ethiopia. If the dam represents for Ethiopia its rights in development, the Nile River represents for us the right to live. The Nile, which was a symbol of life for Egyptians thousands of years ago and still the source of life for Egyptians at present, we need to work together to make it a basis for development and cooperation between the countries lying in its basin… As Egyptian-African relations has developed throughout history starting from backing independence movements until supporting our African siblings through technical cooperation in terms of capacity building in different sectors, those relations must develop now to achieve development partnership in the agricultural, industrial, and trade sectors. Egypt is the world’s gate to Africa and Africa’s doorway to the world,” the president added.
Twenty-five out of Sisi’s 86 visits abroad were to African countries. In the 27th AU Summit held in 2016, President Sisi displayed Egypt’s vision on integration and development in the continent. “Egypt will deploy the maximum possible effort and cooperate with its African siblings to accelerate the pace of regional integration until the economic coalition is formed to meet the ambitions of its peoples, and to achieve the desired unity and development,” the President said.
Intra-Africa Trade meeting in Cairo in December 2018 attended by African leaders - Egypt Today
The president also affirmed that the development of African economies requires coordination on the regional and continental levels, and accomplishment of precise plans. He added that those plans must be based on work division among African countries and building upon the relative advantage of each state. That would reflect positively on the attractiveness of African markets to foreign investments, and reinforces economic growth. The president expressed Egypt’s aspiration that the African Continental Free trade Area (AfCFTA) would come into force in addition to building upon the Tripartite Free Trade Area (TFTA) between the three African trade blocs COMESA, EAC and SADC. TFTA was signed in Sharm El- Sheikh in June 2015 as 26 African countries took part in the event.
Egypt hosted three Business for Africa forums which were all attended by President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi. The latest of which highlighted that Africa had the highest number of youth worldwide having a share of 19 percent according to the United Nations figures, and that it is expected to rise to 42 percent in 2030.
“Egypt will always support the efforts aiming at the reinforcement of African cooperation in specific, and international cooperation in general. That is evident in its open and bold policies to derive the maximum benefit of those efforts to achieve the economic sustainable development, and boost the role of the private sector,” the president added.
The president highlighted the challenges facing the continent in his speeches before the United General Assembly (UNGA) he attended five times in New York since his election stressing that the world had to prioritize the interests of Africa.
President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi during his speech at the UNGA - Press Photo
During his participation in the 2018 UNGA, the president questioned, “Would the African (citizen) be considered exaggerating, if they complain about the deficiency of the world order as his continent suffers from a (global) economic system that bolsters poverty and inequality, and does not make room for development or evolution?”
Africa and China
In his speech at the 2018 Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) Summit, the president said, “The achievement of sustainable development, the creation of more jobs for African peoples, the development of the continental infrastructure, the reinforcement of the freedom of trade within the AfCFTA, the development and diversification of the African economic system, and the reinforcement of the industrial system are key elements of Egypt’s chairmanship of the AU in 2019. It has become evident that development and modernization are the strongest weapon in the battle against contemporary political, economic, and social threats such as terrorism, extremism, organized crime, poverty, illness, economic and trade barriers.”
President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi (L) with Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping in Beijing on September 1, 2018 - Press photo/Presidency
The president added that Egypt would be eager to intensify cooperation and coordination with the joint chairmanship of the forum to enact
. He also stressed the importance of integration between the different development initiative, particularly between the Belt and the Road initiative and the AU Agenda 2063.
In the second edition of the World Youth Forum (WYF) held in Sharm El Sheikh, President Sisi stated 10 recommendations; some of which are pertinent to African youth.
CAIRO - 6 November 2018: President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi delivered a speech in the closing session of the 2018 World Youth Forum (WYF) in Sharm El Sheikh whereas he announced 10 decisions in relation to recommendations by the conference's participants. 1) Aswan is named the capital of African youth for the year 2019.