Egypt’s Ambassador to South Africa, H.E. Ahmed El-Fadly, chaired a session during the Egyptian Day component the Intra-African Trade Fair taking place from the 15th to the 21st of this month in Durban, entitled “Egypt’s Role in Achieving Integration in Africa: The Africa We Want”, during which Egypt’s vision of how to achieve integration on the African continent through industry and trade was showcased. That vision put forth how African countries can move from a stage of poverty management to one wealth creation.
At the beginning of the session, Ambassador Ahmed El-Fadly addressed the importance of achieving integration on the continent within a new framework that goes beyond the traditional geographical divisions inherited from colonialism (North, South, East, West and Central). He pointed to the Cairo-Cape road as one alternative framework for integration, citing that the road links together nine African countries from North to South, including two of Africa’s largest economic powerhouses, Egypt and South Africa, and that these countries combined represent a third of the continent’s population and half of its GDP. He emphasized that were these nine countries to deepen the economic ties between them, they would greatly elevate the state of economic integration on the continent and create a model for others to follow. This he said can only be achieved if the effort was led by both Egypt and South Africa, and must start by the deepening of economic ties between them. This he said would be greatly helped by the recent launch of the African Continental Free Trade Area AfCFTA, which will increase the exchange of trade and joint investments between African countries, helping all Africans achieve “the Africa we want”.
Mr. Mohamed El-Masry, First Vice-President of the Federation of Egyptian Chambers of Commerce, presented the economic reform steps taken by the Egyptian government during the past six years and its contribution to stabilizing markets and achieving economic development. He stressed the importance of the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement, and the need for it to be supported by establishing networks of integrated roads, ports and other means of connectivity and communication within the continent, as well as by removing non-tariff barriers.
For his part Engineer Ahmed El Sewedy, Chairman of the Board of Directors of El Sewedy Electric Company, also highlighted the projects that the company is carrying out in a number of African countries, including Uganda, Tanzania, Ethiopia and Zambia, as models of success in terms of African cooperation. He stressed the importance of the fact that these projects are being done in African countries, by African companies, using African sources of finance.
Another key area the session focused on was Pharmaceuticals. Dr. Maged George, Chairman of the Export Council for medical industries, laid out Egypt’s experience in localizing the production of medical supplies, and how this can be translated to the wider continent. He said that there are still serious challenges to trade among African markets, including logistical challenges such as transport, shipping and banking transactions. He added that Egypt envisions overcoming those challenges in the pharmaceutical sector by establishing Egyptian factories in 12 African countries, through an alliance between different Egyptian pharmaceutical companies, to produce medicine in those countries, and exporting medicines to neighboring countries.
Ms. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, Minister of Governance and Traditional Affairs in the Presidency, participated in the session, and commented on the proceedings saying “It’s very exciting for us to see how Egypt is developing … and to see Egypt driving Agenda 2063: the Africa we Want, is an inspiration to all of us”. She also highlighted the importance of the “Cairo-Cape Town” road in achieving African integration, noting the importance of the role of women and youth in achieving the desired economic development in Africa.
Ambassador Ahmed El-Fadly also emphasized that women and youth have a pivotal role in all aspects of development, pointing out that there are eight women ministers in the Egyptian government and two deputy ministers that are working on issues related to development. He also referred to the leadership of women and youth in the private sector and particularly in the field of small and medium-sized enterprises, noting the presence of a number of them at the exhibition. El-Fadly also highlighted a number of Egyptian initiatives to integrate women and youth in decision-making in Egypt, pointing to the Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi’s adoption of the annual “World Youth Conference” initiative, which is hosted annually in Egypt.
At the end of the session, a contract worth one billion dollars was signed between El Sewedy Electric Company and the government of Malawi, to implement a number of strategic projects, including hydropower projects, solar power plants and e-government, funded by the African Export-Import Bank (AFREXIMBANK). Elfadly described the contract as one of the largest deals concluded during the exhibition and a tangible example of Egypt’s commitment to achieving integration and reaching the “Africa we want”.