Sisi urges US to invest in alleviating debt burdens on most afflicted nations

MENA , Ahram Online , Friday 16 Dec 2022

In a speech on the third and final day Friday of the US-Africa Leaders’ Summit in Washington, President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi urged the US to invest in alleviating debt burdens on the most afflicted countries, noting that the debt rate has reached serious levels exceeding 250 percent of their revenues.

Presidents Sisi and Biden exchange greetings on Thursday evening before the closing of the US-Africa Summit in Washington DC. Egyptian presidency


The Egyptian president made his remarks during a leaders' session held on the sidelines of the summit under the title "Promoting Food Security and Food Systems Resilience."

The US-Africa Leaders’ Summit kicked off on Tuesday and concluded on Thursday with the participation of 49 head of states and government from the African continent.

The summit, hosted by US President Joe Biden, comes eight years after the first edition was held by Barack Obama in 2014.

During hiis speech, El-Sisi stressed that food and water security are closely linked, and in Egypt’s case is a matter of national security.

Guaranteeing food and water security necessitates political will to formulate a legal framework to manage cooperation among the countries which share the water resources in order to achieve development without inflicting any harm, the Egyptian president added.

On Wednesday, in a meeting with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Washington DC on the sidelines of the summit, El-Sisi reiterated the necessity of reaching a legally binding deal on the rules of filling and operating the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).

The Egyptian president told Blinken that such a deal would preserve the water security of Egypt and the flow of the Nile River, according to a statement released by Egyptian Presidential Spokesman Bassam Rady following the meeting.

The Egyptian president stressed that the most recent UN Climate Change Forum (COP27) hosted by Egypt in Sharm El-Sheikh highlighted the pressing intersection of climate change with food security.

The number of people who suffer from food insecurity rose to 800 million people in 2022, increasing by 150 million compared to 2019, he pointed out.

More than a third of those who are food insecure are in Africa, El-Sisi emphasised.

"How can a continent like Africa not produce its own food? How can a nation that does not produce its own food reap the fruits of economic development, or secure stability to build the future?" he asked.

In the meeting with Blinken on Wednesday, the Egyptian president proposed that the African continent needs a fully-fledged international project to develop its infrastructure.

Such a project, whose aim is to develop a comprehensive vision for Africa's infrastructure, requires mobilising resources and support from major countries and global development experts, El-Sisi said.

Egypt vision to enhance food security

El-Sisi's speech on Thursday evening also spotlighted Egypt's vision to enhance food security in Africa, focusing on the importance of intensifying agricultural investments in order to develop the continents production and storage capacities with modern technologies.

The African Free Trade Agreement provides a framework that could enhance integration among the countries of the continent, he added.

He also voiced his hope that major countries could help Africa by investing in its infrastructure and agricultural projects.

COP27 solutions

El-Sisi highlighted the initiatives launched by Egypt during COP27, underlining that food security is linked to climate adaptation.

The president also pointed to the initiatives proposed by African nations during COP27, including the African Development Bank's (AfDB) allocating $1.5 billion to support the purchase of strategic commodities.

Plus, the African Union (AU) and France cooperated to launch the Food and Agriculture Resilience Mission (FARM) initiative for food security in the most vulnerable countries, he said.

He also urged that the African countries use the innovative Africa Exchange Trade Platform (ATEX) and boost digital trade in critical commodities under the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

ATEX is a digital business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-government (B2G) exchange platform developed by ECA and the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank), in collaboration with the African Union Commission and the AfCFTA Secretariat.

El-Sisi also voiced Egypt's readiness to share its expertise on food security, citing the country’s initiative to cultivate an additional 1.5 million feddans and the silos national project to double its grain storage capacity.

The president also highlighted measures to rationalise the use of water and increase water desalination capacity by 2050.

Calls to world leaders

El-Sisi called on the US to invest its economic weight in Africa to enhance the response mechanisms to alleviate the current global food crisis, especially as part of the Global Alliance for Food Security in the G7 and the Global Crisis Response Group on Food, Energy and Finance in the UN Secretariat.

El-Sisi urged urgent measures and exempting these countries from part of their debts as well as activating the G20 initiative to suspend debts and formulate mechanisms to exchange the debts for investments.

He also urged world leaders to take into account the economic impact of the current international crises on various countries, urging them to consider mechanisms for alleviating the debt burden on indebted nations via exemption, exchange or soft repayment.

The Egyptian president called on the international funding institutions to facilitate developing countries to obtain sustainable funding, ease loan terms, outline emergency mechanisms to propel growth and create a social security network to maintain the social fabric of these countries.

He also reiterated the need to work out mechanisms to facilitate the availability of commodities in order to reduce prices.

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