Report on Egypt's Chairmanship of the African Union
Report on Egypt's Chairmanship of the African Union
Long live Egypt! Long live Africa! One year of hard work.
Prepared by /African Youth Bureau Research Unit
On the basis of Egypt’s sense of belonging to the African sphere, and convinced that the African continent’s stability tops the priority list of the Egyptian foreign policy, Egypt's presidency of the African Union came as part of the fundamentals shaping the Egyptian foreign policy on the African continent, thereby enhancing Cairo’s great stature among our African brothers, and Cairo’s stature increased significantly when President el-Sisi took over the AU.
Exactly one year has passed since Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi assumed the presidency of the African Union at the African Summit in Addis Ababa in February 2019. Egypt chaired the AU considering it as a vote of confidence in its leadership by the African countries, and at the same time, as a great responsibility to discharge towards the continent and its peoples. It should be noted that this is the 4th time in history that Egypt takes over as head of the AU. This is Egypt’s 1st time chairing the largest organization in Africa after its name change from “OAU” to “AU”, and the other 3 times where Egypt presided over the Organization, it was still known as “OAU”.
In this context, and throughout this year, the Egyptian leadership has operated on more than one level for the benefit of Africa and its people, with a view to strengthening cooperation between Egypt and African countries, and between African peoples.
Egypt took over as head of the African Union on February 10, 2019. Noting once again that this is the 4th time in its history that the Egyptian State presides over the AU, and is its 1st time chairing the AU after it was rebranded.
It also should be noted that Egypt is one of the founding countries of the Organization of African Unity.
President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi confirmed, in his speech at the African Summit, which was held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, that Egypt would strive to continue along the path of the structural and financial reform of the AU, as well as to expand on past accomplishments in order to consolidate the member states’ ownership of the continental organization, and that Egypt would also seek to develop the tools and capacities of the Union and its commissions to meet the African peoples’ aspirations.
It is worth mentioning that President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi has also participated -since his assumption of the presidency of the African Union- in many international conferences and summits, and he presided over a number of them in partnership with world leaders on 4 continents, namely Europe, Asia, Africa and North America. At each summit, he was a strong and frank advocate of the rights of African peoples to peace, stability, development and prosperity, and he declared that 2019 would be dedicated to promoting sustainable development frameworks to provide more job opportunities for African youth, that the African continent was a promising land, and that the development dividends must be shared equitably among and within African countries.
Following the African Summit, President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi participated in several international conferences and summits, namely the Munich Security Conference in Germany, the High-Level Forum Africa-Europe in Austria, the China-Africa Forum in Beijing, the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) in Tokyo, the G7 summit in Paris, the G20 summit in Osaka, Japan, the United Nations General Assembly, then the G-20 Compact with Africa in Germany, the Russia-Africa Summit in Sochi, the UK-Africa Investment Summit in London (January 2020). At every international Forum, President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi was the best representative of the issues of the African continent and advocate of their rights and interests.
Hence, three axes were chosen to highlight the role that Egypt has played during its presidency of the African Union:
Promotion of peace and security in Africa.
The inter-African level.
The relationship between Egypt and the African people.
1st axis: Promotion of peace and security in Africa.
The President has exerted massive efforts during the African bilateral and collective meetings, among which the bridging role that Egypt played between Kenya and Somalia, as well as President el-Sisi’s support for Africa’s “Silencing the Guns by 2020” Initiative, Egypt’s constructive part on the recent developments in Sudan, and Egypt's efforts towards the political settlement of the current crisis in Libya. In addition, Egypt’s role in promoting peace and security in Africa can be highlighted through the following:
The Munich Security Conference on February 15, 2019
President El-Sisi made a speech during the key session of the conference in presence of the German chancellor. He is the 1st non-European head of state to deliver a speech in the main session since the conference was founded in 1963. El-Sisi presented Egypt's plan to promote African action during the next phase, in the light of Egypt’s presidency of the African Union, by boosting the regional economic integration at the continent level, and facilitating the movement of intra-regional trade within the framework of the Africa Agenda 2063 for inclusive and sustainable development, as well as to enhance post-conflict reconstruction and development efforts.
The Middle East and North Africa Regional Conference
Egypt hosted the Middle East and North Africa Regional Conference during the period from February 20 to 23, and during which President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi stressed the importance of the role of the Association of Attorneys General in raising the efficiency of the prosecution services in the continent and building the capabilities of its members, and noted that Egypt supported the Association’s role, in view of Egypt's current chairmanship of the African Union, considering that strengthening joint African action is on top of the priorities of the Egyptian presidency for the AU.
The President also reviewed in this context Egypt's plan to combat terrorism, which is based on dealing with that phenomenon in all aspects, including security, political, economic, social, intellectual and religious, as well as to address funding mechanisms and political and media support for terrorist groups, stressing the importance of intensifying the international community’s efforts against exploitation of technological advances by terrorists.
The AU Troika Summit and the AU High-Level Committee on Libya of on April 23, 2019
The Summit discussed the latest developments on the Libyan scene and ways to contain the crisis, revive the political process in Libya and eliminate terrorism. The meeting comprised members of the AU Troika, President of the Republic of Rwanda and President of the Republic of South Africa, and the President of the Congo as Chairman of the AU Committee on Libya, as well as the Chairperson of the AU Commission.
The Consultative Summit of Sudan’s Regional Partners on April 23
The participating countries reaffirmed the principles and goals of the African Union towards promoting peace, security and stability on the continent, as well as their commitment to the unity, sovereignty, integrity, cohesion and territorial integrity of Sudan. They expressed their full support for the role of the African Union, "IGAD" and neighboring countries in supporting Sudan's efforts to overcome its political, security and economic challenges.
They also encouraged the Chairman of the AU Commission to continue the dialogue with the Sudanese authority and parties, and demanded that Sudan continue to constructively engage with the African Union and its commission.
In addition, they encouraged the international community to maintain its support and provide urgent economic assistance to Sudan in light of the deteriorating economic conditions, and they stressed the importance of the immediate debt relief of Sudan.
The Belt and Road Summit on April 24, 2019 in Beijing, China
The President spoke on behalf of Africa, calling for more cooperation in the areas of infrastructure and economic development.
The Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD)
Japan organized a high-level summit to support Africa and its developmental aspirations. The 7th Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) was held in Yokohama, Japan, from 28 to 30 August 2019 under the joint chairmanship of Japan and Egypt, current head of the African Union. The Summit was attended by African heads of State, and a number of international organizations and institutions, foremost among which was the United Nations and the World Bank. In this context, the aim of the summit is to promote political dialogue between Africa and its development partners.
The 14th G20 Summit
President el-Sisi participated in the 14th G20 Summit held in Osaka, Japan, on June 28-29. The Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe invited Egypt to participate in the Summit, based on its stature in Africa and in light of its chairmanship of the African Union. El-Sisi also participated in an African mini- summit on the sidelines of the G20 summit, which comprised the President of South Africa "Cyril Ramaphoza" and the Senegalese President "Macky Sall". It should be noted that an agreement was reached, during the mini-summit, on highlighting the development priorities of African countries in front of partners during the G20 meetings, with a focus in this respect on the goals contained in the African Agenda 2063.
2nd axis: The inter-African level.
The Launch of the African Free Trade Area
President el-Sisi witnessed the launch of the African Free Trade Area, largest in the world, which will significantly boost the economic cooperation between the African countries. The 12th Extraordinary African Summit chaired by President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi was held in the capital of Niger, Niamey, on 7/8 July 2019, and the summit witnessed the success launching of the operation phase of the African Continental Free Trade Area, after the AU Commission reached the ratification needed to enter the African Continental Free Trade Area agreement into force.
The 1st African Anti-Corruption Forum
On June 12, 2019, Egypt hosted the 1st African Anti-Corruption Forum, under its chairmanship of the African Union, upon an initiative launched by President el-Sisi in January 2018 during his participation in the annual Ordinary Session of the AU Summit.
55 African countries and 200 high-level African officials participated in the forum. The forum addressed important topics, most notably the review of national efforts in the fight against corruption in a number of African countries in accordance with their international and regional commitments, the relationship between corruption and development in the African continent, the continental anti-corruption mechanisms, the development of human resource capacity in various aspects of combating corruption on the African continent, and how to enhance the African inter-governmental coordination in combating corruption, as well as the role of political will in the success of the anti-corruption efforts on the continent.
On the occasion of Africa Day Celebrations, President el-Sisi delivered a speech on May 25 as President of the African Union, during which he underlined the importance of training the continent’s youth in order to keep abreast of developments and to help them fulfill their functions as the future leaders of Africa. He also stressed the importance of further strengthening of the role of African women as beating heart of societies and beacon of economic transformation and stability. He also touched upon strengthening cultural and civilizational ties between the African peoples, in order to consolidate the African identity and uphold the principles of African Solidarity. The President indicated in his speech that there was no other way but to exert efforts and adherence to the spirit of unity to realize the dream of the founding fathers and to meet the great aspirations of the people of Africa for a stable and prosperous continent that guarantees its citizens a decent livelihood, and transmits civilization, culture of tolerance and love to the world.
3rd axis: The relationship between Egypt and the African people.
Egypt exerted significant efforts in this respect: it organized the Africa Investment Forum and the Arab-African Economic Forum, and the president announced Aswan Capital of African youth, and issued directives to all Egyptian state agencies to enhance cooperation with African countries in all fields, which resulted in many cooperation programmes in all areas: economy, commerce, agriculture, irrigation, diplomacy, environment, youth, sports, industry, and human capacity-building…etc.
Egypt's organization of the Africa Cup of Nations 2019
Under the chairmanship of the African Union, Egypt hosted the Africa Cup of Nations, which was to be hosted by Cameroon in the mid-continent of Africa, but the lack of preparations for organizing the biggest sporting event in the continent prompted the Confederation of African Football (CAF) to withdraw hosting rights for AFCON 2019 from Cameroon. However, CAF have announced that Cameroon would host the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations; and after the reported changes to the schedule, Ivory Coast will host AFCON 2023 and Guinea will host the 2025 version.
It should be noted that Egypt hosted 4 editions of the Africa Cup of Nations, in 1959, 1974, 1986 and 2006. Egypt's organization of the tournament had never aligned with its assumption of the presidency of the African Union. This is the first time in history that Egypt has organized AFCON 2019 under its chairmanship of the African Union, playing a leading role in the political and sports spheres.
Egypt also hosted the Africa U-23 Cup of Nations: it has risen to the occasion and dazzled the whole world once more with the great organization of the tournament. For the first time in its history, Egypt’s young Pharaohs have been crowned African Cup of Nations champions 2019 and and they’ve earned a spot (for the 12th time) in the upcoming 2020 Olympics that will be held in Tokyo, since their 1st time Olympic Games in London 2012.
Aswan Forum for Sustainable Peace and Development
President Abdel-Fattah, at the Sochi Summit in Russia, announced the launch of the first edition of the Aswan Forum for Sustainable Peace and Development, within the framework of Egypt's presidency of the African Union 2019, with the objective of opening new horizons towards achieving sustainable peace and development on the African continent.
The forum was held on December 11th, with the aim of calling for investment in the multiple resources of the African continent and converting it into added value in parallel with the development of infrastructure, and this means laying the groundwork for the attainment of the sustainable development goals. The aim of creating alliances between peace and sustainable development is to encourage and motivate international financial institutions to support and finance development projects in Africa, as well as to attract inward investment, and provide market access for its products to the markets of Europe and Egypt, which is in the continent’s best interest.
The Arab-African Youth Forum
The Arab-African Youth Forum held in Aswan was launched from 16 to 18 March 2019, under the auspices of President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. More than 1500 African and Arab youth participated in the Forum to discuss issues and challenges faced by the African continent and the Arab region. During the Forum, the President stressed that the idea of launching the World Youth Forum came as part of establishing contact with all groups of youth so that we can listen to and talk with each other. He also highlighted the importance to continue to frequently hold these type of conferences to achieve the desired objectives.
The forum included various activities, including a discussion session on "The future of scientific research and health care services", and a round table session entitled “Nile Valley a corridor of African and Arab integration". The conference also included a workshop on "Development of the African Coast region", two workshops on entrepreneurship, one entitled "How to become a successful entrepreneur", and the other "Social Entrepreneurship from an African Perspective".
In the areas of Infrastructure and Transportation:
The interconnection projects between Egypt and the African countries, foremost amongst which are the Cairo-Cape Town road project, the EuroAfrica Interconnector Project bridging Africa and Europe via submarine power cable, and the navigation line project linking between Lake Victoria and Mediterranean Sea through the Nile, noting that this project contributes to promoting regional progress in all the Nile Basin countries.
In this regard, Egypt contributed to the establishment of the Information Infrastructure Investment Fund in order to support technological development and digital transformation in the continent, to build modern economies based on the latest technological systems. The General Authority for Investment and Free Zones and the Ethiopian Investment Commission signed a memorandum of understanding to strengthen bilateral investment relations.
In the area of health:
Egypt assumed the presidency of the AU Specialized Technical Committee on Health, Population and Drug Control, in line with the initiatives launched by President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi in the field of health, which aims to fight communicable and non-communicable diseases, especially the “100 Million Healthy Lives” Campaign that also screened non-Egyptians residing in Egypt.
Egypt is committed to establishing a regional center to support public health initiatives, to be headquartered in Cairo, in order to operationalize public health initiatives in African countries to eradicate diseases and epidemics that pose a significant burden on sisterly African countries.
Meetings with African Leaders:
On February 9, President el-Sisi arrived in Ethiopia on a historic visit to receive the presidency of the AU for the year 2019, followed by his chairmanship of the 32nd Ordinary Session of the AU Heads of State and Government.
On April 7, President El-Sisi began a foreign tour which includes visits to Guinea, Cote d'Ivoire and Senegal. The president’s foreign tour comes as part of Egypt’s keenness to intensify cooperation with its African brothers and further strengthen its relations across the continent in various fields.
On the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly Meetings held in September, President el-Sisi participated in a Tripartite Summit with Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo, President of the Republic of Somalia, and Uhuru Kenyatta, President of the Republic of Kenya, to discuss binary files.
On June 9, President el-Sisi received President of Eritrea Isaias Afwerki, in the interest of consolidating strategic cooperation with Eritrea. The President stressed the importance of proceeding with elaborating specific plans to develop bilateral cooperation projects between the two parties in various sectors and overcoming all obstacles, especially in the sectors of infrastructure, electricity, health, trade, investment, agriculture, and flora and fauna. In addition, he highlighted the need to intensify technical assistance programmes provided to the Eritrean side through the Egyptian Agency of Partnership for Development.
President el-Sisi also met with a number of African presidents and leaders, including Filipe Jacinto Nyusi, President of Mozambique, Abi Ahmed, Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Cyril Ramaphosa, President of South Africa, President of Chad, and President of the Republic of the Comoros Islands, to discuss ways of promoting cooperation, consultation and coordination regarding African issues of common concern, as well as counter-terrorism efforts, and ways of strengthening bilateral relations at various levels.
On the basis of Egypt’s chairmanship of the African Union, several African leaders and heads of State visited Cairo, including Moussa Fakih, Chairman of the African Union Commission who met with President el-Sisi on the sidelines of the Arab and African Youth Forum in Aswan, to underline the importance of the African Union Development Agency (NEPAD).
In the light of Egypt being one of the founding countries of the initiative, President el-Sisi received on May 8 the Agency’s Executive Director, and the meeting resulted in a consensus on intensifying cooperation between the two parties to support NEPAD initiatives that aim to develop and promote economic and regional integration in Africa.
Egypt fulfilled what President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi has promised in his speech at the African Summit that was held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where Egypt took over as head of the AU. In his statement, el-Sisi stressed that Egypt would strive to pursue the path of structural and financial reform of the AU and build on the existing achievements to consolidate the member states’ ownership of the continental organization, as well as to develop the tools, capacities and mandates of the AU in order to meet the aspirations of African people, and to promote sustainable development frameworks to provide more job opportunities for African youth.
Egypt has achieved many impressive results at the regional and international levels, which has been praised by member states of the AU and senior officials of the AU administrative structure. Egypt reaffirmed the principles and goals of the African Union towards strengthening peace, security and stability on the continent. President el-Sisi seized every opportunity to participate in international forums, expressing the concerns and hopes of the peoples of the continent for a decent livelihood, in the realization of their right to sustainable development and job opportunities. He also called upon businessmen and major international companies to invest in Africa, given its endless opportunities, including natural resources and manpower.
Egypt also continued to strengthen the role of African women as beating heart of societies and beacon of economic transformation and stability, in addition to further strengthening cultural and civilizational ties between African peoples, to consolidate the African identity and uphold the principles of African solidarity.
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Refrences in English:
Diaa Rashwan, “Egypt president of the African Union .. the possible and hoped” (Issue47,2018), Available at: www.africa.sis.gov.eg
“Egypt to Hand African Union Presidency to South Africa in February”, Asharq Al-Awsat, Available at: https://aawsat.com
Christin Roby, “What will Egypt focus on as African Union chair?”, Available at: www.devex.com/new
Amr Mohamed Kandil, “Sisi hands over African Union presidency to South Africa”, Available at: www.egypttoday.com