Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi has stressed that the challenges posed by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and its consequences will not derail Egyptian efforts to advance its African agenda.
The President noted that it will, instead, “increase our determination to press ahead with our plans and to rebuild better in order to achieve the African Union’s 2063 agenda.”
Al-Sisi’s remarks came during a recorded speech to the second Aswan Forum for Sustainable Peace and Development. In it, he noted that Egypt was keen to hold this session of the forum virtually, to build on the successes achieved by the first session.
He pointed out that the present time is the best way to address and study the serious challenges facing Africa, foremost of which are the challenges posed by the coronavirus.
President Al-Sisi expressed his confidence that the Forum’s discussions will provide an opportunity to exchange experiences and opinions. He confirmed that Africa is still suffering from the dangers of armed conflicts and civil wars, which threaten the sustainability of security across the continent.
He said that Egypt has sought to advance an ambitious agenda to achieve sustainable development in Africa. The implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement is a good example of the continent’s collective efforts, he noted.
The President added that infrastructure projects are a basic pillar of development, such as transport and electricity.
Meanwhile, he renewed Egypt’s commitment to its responsibility for post-conflict reconstruction and development in African countries through the African Union Center for Conflict Resolution, which is currently based in Egypt.
Al-Sisi said that the centre plays its part in achieving development plans and programmes, and coordinates with each country concerned in accordance with its national conditions and priorities. It also examines the best mechanisms and ways to implement them on the ground.
The Egyptian President also said that his country’s chairmanship of the UN PeaceBuilding Commission opened the door to enhanced cooperation between the African Union (AU) and the UN in this area.
In conclusion, he stressed the importance of choosing “arts, culture and heritage” as the AU’s theme for 2021. This will be used as the soft power of rapprochement among peoples, which will help deal with challenges with an informed and culturally-minded approach.