Ahead of Egypt this year assuming the chair of the African Union, Ambassador to Ethiopia Abdel Khaleq told MENA news agency that Egypt is working on all relevant technical details of the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) reached in Kigali a few months ago and expected to go into effect within a few days or weeks.
Egypt is encouraging member states to ratify the agreement, which will have a direct effect on increasing the volume of African trade. Egypt will also focus during its AU chairmanship on issues of peace and security by tackling reconstruction and development in post-conflict phases, especially in the existing seven or eight hotbeds of conflict in Africa, he said.
Egypt will in a few months host a conference of the African Centre for Reconstruction and Development on post-conflict phases, Abdel Khaleq added.
Egypt has a very ambitious plan as part of a defined strategy to enhance peace and bolster security, whether in South Sudan, the Sahel region extending from north Niger to parts of Mali, Central Africa and other areas of tension, he said.
Among Egypt's priorities is also the AU's ambitious Agenda 2063, a strategic framework for the socio-economic transformation of the continent over the next 50 years. It builds on and seeks to accelerate the implementation of past and existing continental initiatives for growth and sustainable development, he said.
Egypt cannot work alone, and this is why it is keen on mustering international efforts behind African priorities and interests, Abdel Khaleq said.
Concerning Egypt's nomination to host the headquarters of the African Space Agency, Abdel Khaleq said a committee of technical experts has visited the three nominated countries, namely Egypt, Ethiopia and Nigeria, and settled on Egypt whose file was complete from the technical and political perspectives.
Abdel Khaleq described Egyptian-Ethiopian relations as of a strategic nature, because each country looks at the other from a purely strategic viewpoint. Prospects for bilateral relations are unbounded, with many prospects for cooperation and integration, he said.
Egypt has a comprehensive vision for strategic partnership with Ethiopia that affirms Cairo's commitment to water security and Addis Ababa's right to development, Abdel Khaleq added.