Egyptian President and new African Union chairperson Abdel Fattah al-Sisi speaks during the 32nd African Union (AU) summit in Addis Ababa on February 10, 2019. (AFP)
CAIRO - 18 February 2020: In 2019, Egypt took over the presidency of the African Union for the first time since its founding in 2002. Cairo was keen on making a difference during that year for the continent and its own relationship with African nations.
Gehan Abdel Salam, professor of African studies at Cairo University , said Egypt established an investment fund to finance IT infrastructure and support digital transformation in the continent, allowing the emergence of technology-based economies that attract investors.
Meanwhile, the Egyptian Export Development Fund pays 50 percent of the shipping and transportation fees of Egyptian goods imported by African countries to reduce the cost on these countries, Abdel Salam told Egypt Today.
Five new trade offices were opened in Tanzania, Ghana, Uganda, Djibouti, and the Ivory Coast, enhancing trade, she added.
In the first move of its kind, a logistics center was opened in Kenya to support trade between Egypt and east Africa, and more logistics centers are planned to be opened in the upcoming period across the continent, she continued.
Moreover, Egypt signed the African Continental Free Trade Area agreement during the African Union summit in Rwanda in 2018, which was ratified and became operational at the 2019 summit in Niger.
A program that enhances Egyptian export to Africa was launched 2018 to be continued until 2020 in cooperation with five export councils: chemical industries, engineering industries, food industries, medical industries and building materials, refractories and metal industries. They constitute 80 percent of all Egyptian export to the continent.
The program also includes detailed studies of African markets.
For his part, Mohamed Mahmoud, a postgraduate researcher in African studies at Cairo University, said the Egyptian Agency of Partnership for Development offered many activities and training scholarships in several fields and sent medical convoys to different parts of Africa to counter Hepatitis C.
Egypt also launched an initiative to train African youth as part of the African Presidential Leadership Program and adopted an initiative to qualify one million African youths by 2021.
Mahmoud added that Egypt contributed to fining solutions for terrorism in the continent and participated in consultations resolving pending issues without foreign interference, especially in Libya and the disagreements between Somalia and Kenya, where Egypt played a mediating role.
Egypt hosted a conference for investment in Africa and worked on fixing the root problems of investment in the continent and building a vision for the African Union through ideas to develop continental infrastructure, he continued.