Magazine article New African

Egypt's Future Is Africa

Magazine article New African

Egypt's Future Is Africa

Article excerpt

Later this month Egypt will be hosting the Africa2016 Forum, a business and investment forum aimed at boosting political and economic ties throughout the continent. Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el Sisi has clearly encouraged a greater engagement with the rest of the continent. The past year has seen some important state visits across the continent and Egypt's global standing make it an important mediator and strategic partner for the continent Internationally. Ahead of the Forum, the president granted an exclusive interview on a wide range of issues. Here are excerpts:

New African: Since you have taken over the Presidency, your focus seems to have been to drive investment into Egypt. You hosted last year Egypt the Future conference with plenty of commitments from investors to invest in the country. Why have you decided this year to organise an Africa Investment and Business Forum, and why now, in 2016?

President Abdel Fattah el Sisi: Egypt's future lies in Africa. Our vision is deeply rooted in a strong belief of the need to build and strengthen investment and business ties with African countries, as we all chart our way towards prosperity and development. "Africa 2016 Forum" serves as an important stepping stone to this end. Nevertheless, our commitment towards Africa is not just confined to this year. It's an extended long term process of cooperation that aims to enhance the Continents' development agenda and contribute to the stability and security of African countries. This is central to Egypt's national interest.

Last year witnessed extensive efforts from our side to reach out to our African neighbours. In June 2015, Egypt hosted the trilateral summit of the three economic blocs of COMESA, EAC and SADC, which create a historic free trade area between 26 African nations.

Egypt has also played a leading role in addressing Africa's interests at the recent Climate Change Summit in Paris, negotiating on behalf of the continent and launching two initiatives to increase African reliance on renewable energy and create the African clean energy corridor.

NA: You came to power in a time of great instability for the country. How big a challenge has it been?

President El Sisi: I was elected in June 2014 with a clear mandate to usher Egypt into a new era of stability and development. We have moved forward in a short period of time. The successful completion of our road map to the future lays the foundation for a stable environment that can fulfil the aspiration of the Egyptian people for a prosperous and secure country. It was never easy, and it will never be so. However, the resilience the Egyptians have shown over the last two and a half years as they have come together at critical moments to reaffirm their unity and core national character gives me confidence in our ability to consolidate our political and economic gains.

NA: Is Egypt, the 'Giant of North Africa', back? What is your message to Africa and the world about the country's trajectory? President El Sisi: My message to Africa and the world is very clear. We are an integral part of Africa and I have a clear intent to revitalise Egypt's engagement in our beloved continent. As Egypt is entering a new era of political stability and economic development, it will continue to play its active role in defending African interest as a non-permanent member of the Security Council. We will make every effort to further African interests at all political and economic levels for a better common future.

NA: Africa is seen as the continent that offers the best investment opportunities and highest returns. What does this mean to you in real terms, for the people and for Egypt as a country?

President El Sisi: Africa is a continent of hope and opportunity. Our outlook in Africa is stemmed from this narrative. We are keen to encourage Egyptian companies to do more business in African markets and to develop investment partnerships. …

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