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Egypt is working to strengthen African roots and ties

By Vision Reporter

Added 10th March 2015 02:08 PM

The President of Egypt, Abdel Fattah El Sisi recently gave an interview to about 30 journalists from 15 African countries, who were in Egypt on a two-week tour of some projects the country is promoting that are meant to benefit the African continent.

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The President of Egypt, Abdel Fattah El Sisi recently gave an interview to about 30 journalists from 15 African countries, who were in Egypt on a two-week tour of some projects the country is promoting that are meant to benefit the African continent. The interview touched on a number of issues such as global security, media freedom, economy, River Nile vis-à-vis Ethiopia’s dam project and the use by other riparian states.

This was just a few days after the beheading of the 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians. The interview touched on a number of issues such as global security, media freedom, economy, River Nile vis-à-vis Ethiopia’s dam project and the use by other riparian states.

Al Sisi is a simple and friendly man, who interacted with journalists freely without that much restriction associated with presidents and from interaction with other nationals; he seems to wield majority support. New Vision’s Isaac Omoding attended and brings an abridged version of the interview.


President Abdel Fattah El Sisi shakes hands with Isaac Omoding at the Presidential Palace in Cairo, Egypt on February 19, 2015.

QUESTION: The recent World Press Freedom Index has named Egypt as one of the countries with deteriorating media freedom. Recently, Egypt began the retrial of two Al Jazeera journalists after they were convicted of aiding the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood. What do you say about this?

ANSWER: The media reports about Egypt are not accurate. The Al Jazeera problem came as a result of the way they were reporting the process Egypt was going through, after the revolution, which I was not responsible for.
I have just been in office for seven months so it would be wrong to say I am responsible. I did not want to interfere with the court process. However, the Al Jazeera reporters in Egypt had turned into activists instead of objective journalists.
Look at what they reported about our intervention in Libya against the ISIS for killing 21 Egyptian (Coptic Christians).
They went and picked a picture they took in Syria and claimed that was Libya as a result of our air strikes on the ISIS positions. They claimed we had killed children and women.  Egypt is not going to tolerate this and religious ideology needs to be revised. God does not love discrimination, destruction and manipulation. We are working on the constitutional review to address some of these issues.

What is Egypt doing to mend her differences with Africa, especially after the African Union’s (AU) position on your coming to power?

Egypt is working to return to the brotherhood and sisterhood with Africa. Egypt was recently readmitted to join the activities of the AU at the 23rd Summit of the African Union in Malabo.

Egypt’s case was unique and it was not a coup as some implied. It was people’s popular revolution which the military backed because Egypt was on the verge of descending into a civil war. We are now working to better the lives of people, give them a bright and secure future.  

President Abdel Fattah El Sisi shakes hands with Isaac Omoding at the Presidential Palace in Cairo, Egypt on February 19, 2015.



What plans does Egypt have for the continent considering its strategic position and historical background?
As I have mentioned, Egypt is working to return to the brotherhood and sisterhood with Africa. We are working to better the lives of all Africans for bright and secure future. 

 We recently established the Egyptian Agency of Partnership for Development (EAPD). This was established on July 1, 2014 after merging “The Egyptian Fund for Technical Cooperation with Africa” and “The Egyptian Fund for Technical Cooperation with the countries of the Commonwealth and Islamic countries and the Newly Independent States” in a new entity. I announced its launch in my speech at the 23rd Summit of the African Union in Malabo in June 2014.

This Agency is mandated to grant technical cooperation and humanitarian assistance to African and Islamic countries, organising training courses and workshops, promoting the collaboration with the United Nations, developed countries, regional and international organisations within the framework of south-south and north-south cooperation, as well as contributing in funding and in mobilising funds for development projects.

How does this agency operate?


Currently, Sameh Shoukry, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, chairs the Agency’s Board while it is administered by a Secretary General; Ambassador Dr. Hazem Fahmy.

This independent institution is operating according to the established business methods of development aid agencies in the world. One of the principal goals of EAPD is to provide to African and Islamic countries capacity building programmes.


Visiting African journalists in a group photo with Egypt’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Chairman of the EAPD Board, Amb. Sameh Shoukry (centre standing in the middle) at the Egypt’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs Board Room on February 15, 2015 in Cairo.

For decades, the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been contributing in the socio-economic development of African countries through the transfer and exchange of knowledge, skills and expertise since a prosperous Africa remains a key objective for the Egyptian government. It is in this line that we offer our African army and police officers free training opportunity at the Nasser Military Academy and the Police Academy. Of course we shall not be at the level of the British police but we shall help improve their capacity.

Which are your other areas of technical co-operation?

The various technical cooperation activities we are looking at include recruitment and dispatching of Egyptian experts and consultants in various fields according to the needs of the recipient country, organisation of several yearly training programmes and participation in pan-African endeavours aiming at boosting the development of the continent in collaboration with local, regional and international organisations.

We are doing this by building on our long experience in helping its continent to overcome the socio­economic challenges. We, therefore, believe that agriculture, health, education and information technology are essential pillars to build the African Renaissance.

Ambassadors: L-R: Dr. Hazem Fahmy (the Secretary General of EAPD) ; Amb. Sabry M. Sabry (the Assistant Foreign Minister) and Amb. Mohamed F. El-Hamzawi (the Minister Plenipotentiary Deputy Assistant Minister For Nile Basin Countries Affairs) addressing the press at the Egypt’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs Board Room on February 15, 2015 in Cairo.


The training facilities in Egypt are centres of excellence that utilise state of the art technology to organise the requested courses and to ensure the transfer of knowledge. The programmes undertaken by EAPD are diverse and reflect the needs of recipient countries.

The expertise which Egypt provides includes diplomacy, transportation, communication and information technology, health care, agriculture, police, crime prevention and counter terrorism, water management and irrigation, tourism, industrialization, relief and emergency assistance, electricity and energy resources security and defense, privatisation and public sector reform, industrial management, environment pilot farms and feasibility studies for small projects.

Under this arrangement, Egypt is going to train 600 African doctors in various fields. We are also offering free cancer treatment to African children at our Child Cancer Centre 57357 and free heart treatment at the Magdi Yacoubi Heart Foundation at Aswan.

We are also doing a major Suez Canal expansion. The New Suez Canal will be parallel to the existing one, to maximise benefit from the present Canal.

The project will benefit Africa mainly by decreasing the crossing time of ships and tankers of the Suez Canal hence facilitate trade to and from the Ports of Mombasa and Dar es Salaam.

It will also create an opportunity for African traders and countries to benefit from the “logistical trading” centres, to stock their produce such as tea, coffee and maize for trading globally.

We are also working on the feasibility studies for the Lake Victoria to Mediterranean Sea (Alexandria ) transport corridor. The study is funded by the African Development Bank. This transport corridor will cover a distance of approximately 7,000km. We have concluded trilateral agreements with donor countries, international organisations and development agencies to broaden the scope of work of EAPD as well as to raise necessary supplementary funding.

As part of its continued commitment to Africa, the Egyptian Government allots a yearly independent budget for the EAPD. We are currently seeking to expand EAPD’s trilateral cooperation with interested governments, regional and international organisations.

How is Egypt’s relationship with Ethiopia and other riparian countries in the use of the Nile water, especially Ethiopia’s Renaissance power dam construction?


I have met and discussed with the Ethiopian Prime Minister about their planned dam construction and we have reached an understanding, especially after the June 2014 Malabo meeting.


Journalists at the Children’s Cancer Centre 57357 in February, 2015

It is an issue of political and technical nature that involves the River Nile and the Blue Nile. We are continuing to address the issue of the dam from a technical perspective. Our Nile Basin cooperation is on win-win perspective.

I have called upon Ethiopia to consider the fact that as they build this dam, they should note that there is another country whose survival purely depends on the waters of the Nile. So these are the issues we are addressing and we are progressing positively.

Our interest is to know and be part of the decision and work that affects the waters of the River Nile. This is our position even among the other Nile Basin countries because the fraction or the percentage of Nile water that Egypt and Sudan combined use is very little so it is not true that we are denying other countries their share of the water. Our position is that the use should not affect its flow.
 
Are there plans to organise national reconciliation with the Mubarak and Muslim Brotherhood supporters as a way of forging national unity? Are you also considering interfaith and intercultural dialogue considering that the recent beheading of the 21 Coptic Christians had religious overtones?

That is a very good and important question. Egypt will promote dialogue and national reconciliation only when everybody is ready to respect each other. God does not love discrimination and manipulation. That is why we are saying that we shall not tolerate religious ideology that is dented. The 90 million Egyptians have to coexist.





 

 

Egypt is working to strengthen African roots and ties

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