19 February 2019 07:06 AM

Sisi: Egypt seeks to develop AU potentials

Sunday، 10 February 2019 - 03:11 PM

President Abdel Fattah El Sisi said Egypt will exert utmost efforts to continue with the institutional, structural and financial reform of the African Union and seek to develop tools and potentials of the continental bloc and the African Union Commission to meet the aspirations and hopes of the African peoples.

In his speech after being handed over the chairmanship of the AU, President Sisi expressed thanks and appreciation to Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed for his generous hospitality and Rwandan President Paul Kagame for pushing forward joint African action lauding the strenuous efforts he exerted during his chairmanship of the AU in 2018 which yielded tangible progress and reform.

These achievements make the African Union more capable of carrying out its responsibilities in light of the critical regional and international conditions where challenges and perils are facing African interests, he added.

President Sisi congratulated South African President Cyril Ramaphosa for holding the African Union chairmanship in 2020, voicing belief that stronger cooperation would enhance African solidarity.

Sisi welcomed the African leaders who are leading their countries' delegations for the first time in an AU summit and wished them all success.

He thanked the heads of state for their confidence in Egypt in chairing the AU in 2019, promising to work hard to foster joint African action.

"I am well aware of the great responsibility given to Egypt to coordinate joint African action at the current tough and critical international and continental circumstances which are exacerbated by disputes, extremism and terrorism. Challenges are getting stronger at a time when the aspirations of the people are getting bigger," he said.

He expressed optimism over "holding such a meeting to discuss African affairs and coordinate efforts toward unity for the sake of hundreds of millions of our children and grandchildren. This is our aim," he added.

President Sisi said that ever since the founding meeting of the Organization of African Unity (now the AU) here in May 1963, Africa has been able to take wide steps, reaching many dreams, surmounting a lot of obstacles and confronting great challenges.

"We have gotten rid of colonialism, and though its impact on us (Africans) seems to be still lingering on, we are working hard to establish peace, security and stability and reach economic integration and continental inclusion for our nations and peoples for the sake of building the African human," he added.

"Mutual understanding and respect among us all is undoubtedly the driving force of the African Union. Through enhancing our united willpower we can make our joint action reach all horizons that we aspire for," he added.

President Sisi quoted African leader Kwame Nkrumah as saying "Divided we are weak; united, Africa could become one of the greatest forces for good in the world."

President Sisi asserted the importance of African solutions when it comes to resolving African problems, saying it is the only way to deal with joint challenges. Africa is more capable of understanding the complications of its problems and the nature of its conditions and therefore can find realistic solutions that protect and achieve the interests of its peoples, he said.

"Despite our strenuous efforts to control disputes in the continent and our ambitious plan to silence all guns across Africa by 2020, yet the road ahead is still long and we should continue efforts to turn over a new leaf in the history of Africa and turn our back to the old painful one which was full of disputes that had inhibited the development of the continent", he said.

"It is necessary to believe in the need to support development to tackle the roots of crises. Therefore, I call on our brothers, the African leaders, to work together to revive and activate our continental framework policy to encourage future reconstruction and development and to draw up plans of action that protect countries that had disputes against any relapse. This would help build the institutional potentials of these countries in their post-conflict rebuilding efforts and enable them to protect their lands and peoples," he added.

"We are looking forward to launching the activities of AU Post Conflict Reconstruction and Development Center, which will be hosted by Cairo as soon as possible to become a coordination platform to prepare programs for countries emerging from conflicts to protect their rights to reconstruction and development," he said.

Developing and enhancing peace and security in Africa will continue as a sustainable strategic aim for our continent. Mediation and preventive diplomacy will always top the priorities of the African Union, he said.

"We will work on promoting coordination between continental and regional peace and security mechanisms in order to reach integration and this helps in early and active response in various crises," he said.

Terrorism will remain a vicious cancer that seeks to expand in the bodies of African countries and take away the dreams of their peoples, he said, asserting that confronting terror comprehensively requires defining and confronting its supporters and financiers within a collective and transparent framework. "This is not an easy battle and it is complicated. But it is the best way to uproot terrorism," he added.

President Sisi declared the launching of the first Aswan Forum for Peace and Sustainable Development in 2019 to be a regional and continental platform where political leaders, intellectuals, peace-makers and development partners can meet in the Upper Egyptian city of Aswan, the jewel of the Nile. They will be able to discuss linking peace with development in a sustainable way with the aim of creating a tangible difference in the lives of peoples and giving them hope.

He said that terrorism, extremism, climate change, poverty, water scarcity and drought are all elements that force people to leave their homes, particularly that these crises reflect on Africa in the first place where 90% of around 8 million refugees are inside Africa.

The number of displaced people amounts to around 18 million which makes us more keen to carry out development that includes giant continental and regional projects that provide the largest number of job opportunities and create conditions favorable for the displaced to return home, he said, adding that this should also include a medium-range development plan to create attractive integrated economic zones all over Africa to employ Africans and keep them in their continent.

The Egyptian president asserted the need to intensify scientific cooperation to make use of the continent's natural potentials in diversifying the sources of energy through supporting clean renewable energy projects. This would help reduce the environmental impact of the climate change phenomenon that affects people, he added.

President Sisi said Africa has been able to achieve many gains by adopting joint and unified stances through discussions and multilateral international negotiations. This urges for stressing African collaboration to defend African interests especially when it comes to the state's inalienable right to development programs and the historical right to fair representation at the UN Security Council.

Day by Day, the great African women are restoring their pivotal role in the continent, he said, expressing appreciation to them for enduring and confronting the throes of war with patience.

He addressed African youth, saying they are Africa's beating heart and young arms. "We are exerting efforts and making plans with the hope of leaving them a continent that is stronger than when we got it and to open wider horizons for them," he said.

He addressed Africa's partners worldwide, saying partnership with Africa is a real opportunity to reach joint interests, calling for more profitable investments in the African economy and development. "We will seek to enhance cooperation with Africa's current partners to sanction plans that can be implemented and yield tangible results for the African people," he added.

"We will also expand vistas of African cooperation with the various international partners in order to build Africa's potentials, transfer knowledge and develop the infrastructure and technology," he added.

He called on international, continental and regional financing institutions to play their role in funding development in Africa and providing financial guarantees to build its potentials in a way that helps promote trade and increase investment.

President Sisi said that success in reaching the targets of economic and social development mainly depends on the ability to confront such challenge unanimously. Therefore, he said, we should work together to eliminate all obstacles facing promoting joint African action through enhancing efforts to reach regional integration in Africa, supporting cross-border projects and encouraging investments in this field.

He called for the need to accelerate the establishment of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), which is one of the priorities of the AU as it would contribute to reducing the prices of many commodities and raise the continent's competitiveness at the international level.

It is necessary to work on providing more job opportunities for youth and this needs more national and international investments and attracting capital, he said.

"Joint African action is not a choice but rather a must in light of the international conditions that are full of challenges and difficulties that no single country can face alone," he said.

"It is necessary to translate our words and decisions into specific steps so that the world believes that we mean what we say. African solidarity is an active entity that can move stances and influence events and not just a motto," he added.

"Long live Africa, long live its great peoples, thank you all and peace be upon you," he concluded.


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