President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi of Egypt has told the closing plenary of the Africa 2018 Forum of his intention to focus on greater integration and greater cooperation of Africa.
He unveiled his plan as Egypt prepares to take over the chairmanship of the African Union in 2019.
In an impassioned speech, it was clear that promoting the African agenda was at the heart of his country’s foreign as well as economic strategy.
A number of announcements were made during the two-day Forum to encourage greater regional private sector investments from Egyptian companies, as well as initiatives to deal with some of the issues and constraints holding back investments, not least infrastructure.
A Guarantee Fund was launched as well as dedicated funds focusing on infrastructure and the digitization of African economies.
“This event emphasizes how much importance Egypt accords to the African continent,” Al Sis said.
“It’s been an important platform to enhance the multilateral framework of African countries. Improving African infrastructure and a clear focus development will be central to our agenda during our chairmanship of the AU.”
A number of African presidents attended the Forum including the President of Niger who was keen to remind the audience of the urgent need to take bold and decisive action to ratify the African Continental Free Trade Agreement that was signed in March this year.
Twenty-two countries need to ratify it for it to come into force.
“If political pan-Africanism emerged victorious in the twentieth century he said, economic pan-Africanism must win the day in this century.”
Women and youth were also central to the programme. The message sent was that entrepreneurship and private sector should be the driving force to transform the continent.
But there needs to be a deliberate approach as it will not just happen organically, according to Paul Kagame who alongside President Al Sisi took part in an intergenerational dialogue during the youth day.
As well as calling for entrepreneurs and investors to dream big, Al Sisi emphasized the need to act quickly. “People always asking me why you are in such a hurry?” he added. “It’s because the needs are so pressing.”
The Forum was attended by 5 heads of state, the Presidents of a number of Development Finance Institutions as well as numerous dignitaries and CEOs.
Two hundred and fifty start-ups were invited to take part in the youth day. The Forum also included an exhibition of 30 leading African creators in fashion, design and luxury goods.