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the New Republic: Egypt’s Role in Africa

Establishing the New Republic, the political leadership eyed Africa and sought to consolidate its role in the world’s second-largest continent, identifying it as a concentric circle in Egypt’s foreign policy on national security-related issues. For Egypt, Africa represents a natural strategic depth. This concept has been manifested in the political leadership’s genuine recognition of the need for Egypt to develop the African aspect of its identity in accordance with a vision based on the principle of “development for preservation of continental security and stability”.        

– Transfer of Expertise: Egypt founded its vision for Nile Basin countries on the firm belief that the Nile River should remain a space for peaceful coexistence, fraternity, and development. Egypt’s endeavor to fostering relations with Nile Basin countries extended beyond paying diplomatic visits to those countries guided by the political leadership to transferring Egypt’s experience and expertise to those countries where Egypt supported the political movement in Sudan till signing of the Constitutional Declaration and forming the Sovereignty Council of Sudan comprising military and civil components, hosted the Consultative Summit of Regional Partners of Sudan in April 2019 to discuss developments in Sudan and bolster the comprehensive process of peaceful democratization, supported Sudan’s removal from the list of State Sponsors of Terrorism, and attended the Paris Conference to support Sudan’s transitional government upon invitation of the French president. 

– Development of Africa: The first phase of Benban Solar Park has been launched, Nyerere and Rufiji dams were implemented in Tanzania, and the Navigational Line between Lake Victoria and the Mediterranean Sea project is being carried out. Also, under Africa’s Renewable Energy Initiative of 2015, Egypt carried out several electrical connectivity projects to make the best use of Africa’s clean energy potential, estimated at 40 percent of the world’s energy including Egypt-Sudan electrical linkage project and a linkage project with Ethiopia’s electricity network. Currently, Egypt’s participation in the construction of the Grand Inga Dam is under consideration and the electrical linkage project with Inga has been activated which would promote Egypt’s role as a hub for hydropower transfer between African countries and Europe. There is also joint coordination between Egypt and Somalia in areas of energy and oil and gas discoveries as well as coordination projects with Benin on infrastructure and energy projects.

Military Cooperation: Egypt aims at addressing external interference in the continent and reducing armed threats and arms trafficking. Egypt has inked a military cooperation and training agreement with Sudan, military and intelligence pacts with Kenya, Rwanda, Somalia, and Djibouti, and coordinated with African countries on combating terrorism and protecting the Red Sea coast. Also, Egypt adopted Treaty of Community of Sahel-Saharan States, aimed at preservation of peace and security in the Community of Sahel-Saharan States, submitted a proposal for establishing an African counter-terrorism force, and hosted a meeting of the Chiefs of Staff of the five Sahel militaries –Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Chad, and Burkina Faso– in February 2020.

– Strengthening Security and Continental Integration: President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi reiterated his call for implementation of “Silencing the Guns” initiative which he proposed during the African Summit in Addis Ababa in February 2019, aiming at ending conflicts and wars in the continent and reaching definitive agreements with parties to disputes for a ceasefire. Egypt also put forward initiatives for dialogue, delivery of humanitarian assistance to those affected by conflicts, and fighting famine, and worked on activating the role of Cairo International Center for Conflict Resolution, Peacekeeping and Peacebuilding. In February 2019, Egypt hosted the Regional Conference for prosecutors from the Middle East and North Africa to share its vision for combating terrorism. Further, Cairo hosted, for the first time, the meeting of Ministerial Committee on African Defense, Security, and Safety in December 2019 and signed in the same month an agreement to host the African Union Center for Reconstruction and Development in Cairo.

Egypt’s participation in international and African summits on African matters was centered around achieving continental integration and mutual interest-based collaboration. So, Egypt’s engagement was aimed at promoting collaboration for the greater good of Africa through linking African countries together and linking them with Europe to achieve development in all spheres toward realizing the sustainable development dimensions of Africa’s Agenda 2063 including promoting entry into force of African Free Trade Agreement at the African Union Extraordinary Summit in Niger on 30 May 2019 and establishing a Covid-19 response fund, which Egypt called for in the African Union’s  video conference meeting held before G20 Summit to support Covid-19 efforts in the continent and its negative repercussions on African economies and obtain international support. Egypt participated as well in African Economic Conference in Paris 2021.

Additionally, the first phase of Cape to Cairo Road aimed at connecting North and South Africa has been implemented. The 11,000 km road stretches the length of Africa from Cairo to South Africa to facilitate traffic and trade between the nine countries it connects. In December 2018, a €1 billion Investment Risk Insurance Fund in Africa was created focusing on infrastructure and youth training activities to stimulate direct and indirect investments in Africa. The Fund received support from the World Bank, the African Development Bank, and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. Similarly, an IT infrastructure investment fund has been set up and relatedly the World Bank allocated $25 billion to invest in the 10-year digital transformation initiative launched by President Al-Sisi in partnership with the private sector. Egypt also engaged with the African Trade Insurance Agency aimed at facilitating the development of trade, investment, and production activities. In 2014 in Malabo, the Egyptian Agency of Partnership for Development in Africa was established after merging The Egyptian Fund for Technical Cooperation with Africa and The Egyptian Fund for Technical Cooperation with the Countries of Commonwealth.

 Given Egypt’s role in Africa, it was chosen to chair the African Group on North Africa at the three UN Organizations in Rome during 2020 and the G77 in Rome in 2018. Egypt won presidency of the UN Committee on Social Policies and Poverty in 2020 and 2021 for the third time since its establishment in 1979. The Committee works on promoting safe migration, empowering women, and providing social welfare. Further, Egypt adopted health initiatives to support continent’s efforts in facing diseases and epidemics, understanding that humans are the basis for development and endorsed initiatives to empower African women and achieve gender equality in the continent.

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