STATEMENT OF HIS EXCELLENCY PRESIDENT ABDEL FATTAH EL-SISI, PRESIDENT OF THE ARAB REPUBLIC OF EGYPT, DURING THE TWENTY-SECOND SUMMIT OF THE COMMON MARKET FOR EASTERN AND SOUTHERN AFRICA “COMESA”
In the Name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful
My brother His Excellency President Hakainde Hichilema, President of the Republic of Zambia,
Your Excellencies, Heads of State and Government of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA),
Ms. Chileshe Kapwepwe. Secretary General of COMESA,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It gives me great pleasure to be with you today in the Zambian capital, Lusaka, to participate in the 22nd COMESA Summit under Theme: “Economic Integration for a thriving COMESA anchored on green investment, value addition and tourism”.
At the beginning of my speech, allow me to express my sincere appreciation to my brother, His Excellency President Hakainde, President of the Republic of Zambia for the generous hospitality and warm welcome we have seen which is not surprising from the people of Zambia, and I also extend my thanks to the COMESA Secretariat team for the good preparation and arrangement for the activities of our meeting today.
It was a great honor for Egypt to assume the leadership of the “COMESA” cluster over the past two years during a very critical period that witnessed important developments at the international and regional levels.
During its presidency of the cluster, Egypt has set specific goals before its eyes based on advancing the rates of economic integration and that is to enhance the level of well-being of our peoples, in addition to enhancing the capabilities of peace and security in our countries. However, despite the successes that have been achieved, we still have a lot to do to employ our regional integration to face the current challenges.
In this regard, allow me to review the most important achievements over the past two years, namely:
Regarding the field of economic development, Egypt has paid great attention to activating the Continental Free Trade Area Agreement and achieving harmony with the tripartite free trade agreement among “COMESA”, “SADC” and “EAC” blocs, through specific procedures to urge member states to implement customs exemptions and facilitate trade exchange movement among them. These efforts resulted in an increase in intra-COMESA exports to reach $13 billion in 2022, which is the highest value since the establishment of the Free Trade Area, under the framework of the cluster in 2000. This is in addition to the increase in the volume of trade exchange between Egypt and the COMESA countries in the same year to reach $4.3 billion which represents its highest value since Egypt joined COMESA.
In the same context, Egypt presented Regional Industrial Integration Initiative under framework of the COMESA industrialization strategy 2017 – 2026 which aims to deepen industrial production by linking regional value chains according to the competitive advantage of countries.
In this regard, I would like to value the role of the COMESA Regional Investment Agency hosted by Egypt, for attracting investments to the countries of the cluster with the need to continue the ongoing efforts to direct these investments to the industrial sector.
In connection with the foregoing, Egypt has focused on the infrastructure sector by encouraging interconnectivity projects between member states, the most prominent of which is the interconnectivity project between Lake Victoria and the Mediterranean Sea, and I call on the Secretariat to intensify efforts to mobilize the necessary financial resources to implement these projects.
In this context, allow me to shed light on one of the projects which represents pride of our continent, and which has proven the existence of real fruits of cooperation between our countries, where there is political will. This is the giant “Julius Nyerere” dam project in the sister country of Tanzania.
This dam that is being implemented with Egyptian and Tanzanian hands and will generate electric energy estimated at “2.5” gigawatts, as the Egyptian companies executing the project have proven their expertise and capabilities enabling them to implement projects on international standards, and this is the expertise Egypt aspires to share with our brotherly African countries.
In the field of pharmaceutical manufacturing, it was necessary to shed light on the medical and health sector in COMESA, especially considering the challenges posed by the “Corona” pandemic.
Accordingly, Egypt submitted a proposal to establish a Health Committee in the COMESA Secretariat, and it also hosted the first session of the African Medical Conference, which is currently in its second edition, to discuss ways to invest in this vital field, in addition to the growing interest directed by Egypt to invest in the domestication of the pharmaceutical and vaccine industry, leading to the announcement of Egypt’s provision of “30” million doses of “Corona” virus vaccines to sister African countries, which confirms Egypt’s role as a regional center for the manufacture of medical vaccines.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
With regard to the field of peace and security; We are all aware of the size and depth of the challenges that our country faces to sustain peace and security, which is what now requires us to adhere to a number of main determinants and principles, the most important of which is the need to respect the right to life of all peoples of African countries, and to settle disputes, conflicts and issues that threaten this right, in addition to preserving our national institutions, as the backbone of the stability of states and the security of their people, and the guarantee of their supreme interests.
The foregoing prompts us to refer to the recent developments in a number of our countries, mainly the brotherly Sudan, which is going through challenges that require our solidarity to support its people. I affirm that Egypt is assuming its responsibilities as a direct neighbor, as it is exerting all efforts with the active actors and international partners, and by engaging in the existing mechanisms to ensure coordination among them to achieve the goal of a “Secure and Stable Sudan”.
In connection with this, Egypt continues to host the people of the brotherly Sudan, and I call on all countries to provide the necessary support to our brothers at this critical historical moment.
Here I affirm, in my capacity as pioneer in the file for reconstruction and development at the level of the African Union, that Egypt will spare no effort in harnessing the Center for Reconstruction and Development in Cairo to provide all means of support to our sister countries in their path towards achieving development, as I would also like to announce Egypt’s candidacy for membership in the African Peace and Security Council for the period 2024 – 2026, as Egypt believes in its responsibilities towards supporting peace and security efforts in our continent.
Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I pledged to you upon assuming the presidency of the cluster in 2021 to work with all effort and sincerity to deepen economic integration among the countries of the region. Now, after the end of Egypt’s presidency of COMESA, I renew my pledge to you to continue working in coordination with all our brothers towards implementing the goals of the African Development Agenda 2063, especially with Egypt assuming the presidency of the African Union Development Agency (NEPAD) for the coming two years.
In Conclusion, allow me to announce the end of Egypt’s presidency of COMESA, and it gives me great pleasure to hand over the responsibility of chairing the cluster to my brother, His Excellency President Hichilema, President of the Republic of Zambia. I am fully confident that he will do everything in his power to build upon the achievements of the Egyptian Presidency, wishing His Excellency and his government success, and I would like to announce the new Bureau of the COMESA Summit, constituted of the Republic of Zambia as Chair, the Republic of Burundi as Vice-Chair, and the Arab Republic of Egypt as Rapporteur.
Thank you all.
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