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Thursday, 09 April 2020

INTERVIEW: Egyptian aid in Africa

Mahmoud Al-Maghrabi, Secretary-General of the Egyptian Agency of Partnership for Development, talks with Al-Ahram Weekly about efforts to promote African development

Doaa El-Bey , Friday 21 Feb 2020
Egyptian aid in Africa
Al-Maghrabi
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The Egyptian Agency of Partnership for Development (EAPD) was established in July 2014 to lead South-South cooperation. It aims to utilise Egypt’s comparative advantages and technical expertise for the benefit of the South and in particular of Africa and the countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States.

The agency merged the earlier Egyptian Fund for Technical Cooperation for Africa and the Egyptian Fund for Technical Cooperation for the Commonwealth of Independent States. EAPD policy is drawn up by a board of directors chaired by the foreign minister and includes the deputy foreign minister for African affairs and a number of assistants. It is based at the Foreign Ministry and is administered by a secretary-general appointed by the foreign minister.

 

How did Egypt being the 2019 chair of the African Union reflect on the activities of EAPD?

EAPD organised more than 80 training programmes for African cadres to develop and build capacity in various fields including the health, agriculture, irrigation, electricity and infrastructure sectors, women’s empowerment, diplomacy, peace and security during 2019. More than 2500 trainees attended the various programmes.

We also boosted EAPD’s cooperation with international and regional parties interested in the development of Africa, with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), one of our most important international partners, the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), the Islamic Development Bank (ISDB) and others.

In the field of security and development to which the agency gives high priority- post-conflict reconstruction and development topped our 2019 agenda. In cooperation with various state agencies we organised activities that included training programmes to combat terrorism in which 300 trainees from 40 African countries took part.

The agency works in close collaboration with the Armed Forces Training Authority and the Police Research Centre at the Ministry of Interior to provide comprehensive programmes that build on their extensive experience in the fight against all forms of terrorism.

EAPD developed several programmes in the field of food security, organising capacity building programmes in irrigation system development, drinking water supply, water resource management and agricultural productivity.

EAPD also intensified its activities in support of Egyptian medical units and clinics in African countries. There are 21 Egyptian medical centres across the continent, and medical convoys have been regularly dispatched. In this context we have strengthened our cooperation with the most distinguished research centres and medical service providers in Egypt, including the Magdy Yaacoub Foundation for Cardiology, the Mansoura Kidney and Urology Centre and the Children’s Cancer Hospital 57357.

EAPD contributed to efforts to face emergency conditions in African countries during 2019 by providing 25 aid shipments to 14 African states that included food aid, medical aid and logistical help.

Last, but not least, EAPD doubled the number of scholarships offered to African students to study in Egypt. Ten scholarships were offered at Ain Shams University and 10 for graduate studies at the Senghor University in Alexandria.

During the year EAPD also organised two workshops for African media figures, addressing topics such as the role of the media in supporting African relations, the impact of media on security and development and in supporting female empowerment.

 

What is the biggest and most beneficial project that the EAPD took part in during 2019?

Sending medical convoys to Sudan, South Sudan, Tanzania and Djibouti was one of the most important projects last year. We also organised the Media and African Cooperation programme which took place between 20 and 30 January in Cairo.

Twenty three leading media figures from the same number of countries participated in the programme which included events and meetings with official dignitaries, seminars and field visits to major projects in Egypt and a tour of Cairo’s tourist attractions.

There were meetings with Ahmed Al-Tayeb, the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Al-Sharif and Pope Tawadros II, Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of the See of St Mark, among other officials. The participants also visited Media Production City, the Nasser Military Academy, the Police Academy, the National Training Academy, the Suez Canal, the New Administrative Capital and the British and the German Universities in Egypt.

 

What is the EAPD’s focus now ?

Last month we held a workshop on investment opportunities in international trade and transport in African countries in cooperation with the Arab Academy for Science, Technology and Maritime Transport which many decision-makers in the transport and logistics sectors and African port attended.

 

Supporting the development aspirations of African countries is one of Egypt’s top priorities. What has the agency done to help meet this goal in the last five years?

Our activities include organising training programmes in partnership with Egyptian centres of excellence. More than 300 programmes that have benefited 10,000 participants from 42 African countries were organised.

EAPD also sent 65 experts to a total of 21 countries to provide aid and humanitarian assistance, medical equipment, medicines and healthcare services. 

 

The EAPD started a partnership with JICA. How has this contributed to meeting the agency’s goals?

In 1998 Egypt and Japan signed a Framework Agreement for Triangular Cooperation with Africa. The agreement has been implemented for the past years by the Egyptian Fund for Technical Cooperation with Africa (EFTCA) and JICA and has focused on organising training courses for African cadres.

Last year EAPD, in cooperation with JICA, organised a training programme on the effective use of water to achieve moderate irrigation goals. Nineteen trainees from eight African countries, five of which are Nile Basin countries, took part.

The programme was held at the Regional Centre for Training and Water Studies from 1 December 2019 to 9 January. It aimed to improve the efficiency of water management in African countries by providing training to irrigation and agricultural engineers on effective water use management.

 

What other partners does EAPD work with and how do they help the agency to meet its goals?

The Islamic Development Bank (IDB) is an important partner. It is considered one of the most flexible financial organisations supporting development in Africa.

EAPD upgraded the cooperation framework with the bank, signing a memorandum of understanding with its head in Jeddah on 19 April  2015 that aims to support the exchange of expertise and expand the realm of cooperation.

The African Bank for Development (ABD) is another important partner. Cooperation between ABD and the Egyptian Fund for Technical Cooperation with Africa is based on a memorandum of understanding concluded in 1998.

EAPD has bolstered cooperation with the bank by identifying new opportunities such as the dispatch of experts and the organising of health training in addition to the more traditional support of Egyptian private sector activities in Africa.

The Arab Fund for Technical Assistance of the League of Arab Nations (AFTA) is also a partner. Cooperation between EAPD and the Fund was initiated and has been maintained on the basis of a memorandum of understanding signed in 1998. AFTA has co-funded training courses in the domains of diplomacy and health.

 

One of your goals is to provide regional solutions with a global perspective. How far has EAPD gone in meeting the global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), especially zero hunger (SDG2), good health and wellbeing (SDG3), gender equality (SDG5) and peace, justice and strong institutions (SDG16)?

SDG2 is of crucial importance to the region and agriculture is a priority work-area for EAPD. We have worked with the Egyptian International Centre for Agriculture and together have designed and delivered many capacity building programmes.

In order to meet SDG3 we have established strong partnerships with Egyptian centres of excellence in the health sector and with the Ministry of Health, faculties of nursing and the Alexandria Regional Centre for Women’s Health and Development. 

Achieving gender equality and empowering women is also high on the agency’s agenda. Development cannot be achieved or sustained without the full involvement of women. We collaborate with the Egyptian National Council for Women to design and deliver training courses tailored to women from countries across the continent.

The EAPD collaborates with national partners to support other African countries implement SDG16. Through solid partnerships with organisations like the Ministry of Justice, the Administrative Control Authority, the Armed Forces and the Police Academy, African officials receive training on issues such as human trafficking, anti-terrorism measures and humanitarian law.

 

What are your future plans?

Our mission in Africa is on-going. A number of pilot projects are in the pipeline. There is a multi-dimensional project comprising a school, simple factories and clinics and we are currently discussing with our partners. More details will be available by April.

EAPD will continue to engage in the kinds of development activities it has traditionally undertaken and at the same time strive to find innovative ways to strengthen South-South and triangular cooperation and forge partnerships with national, regional and international stakeholders to provide African solutions with a global perspective.

*A version of this article appears in print in the 20 February, 2020 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly.

 

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