Egypt's President El-Sisi (R) speaks at the AU summit next to Niger's President Mahamadou Issoufou. Niamey, Niger on 7 July 2019 (Photo courtesy of the Egyptian presidency)
Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi stressed on Monday the necessity of overcoming challenges facing the African continent through developing economic projects, calling on the international community to provide support for Africa.
The call by the Egyptian president, who currently chairs the African Union (AU), came during the coordinating meeting today between the leaders of various African countries and major regional economic groups in Africa as part of the AU summit held in Niger (7-8 July).
The 12th Summit of the AU kicked off in Niamey, Niger on Sunday, to launch the long-awaited-African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
Monday's coordinating meeting was attended by leaders of African countries and heads of African economic blocs and groups, including the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), East African Community (EAC), Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), among others.
"The summit is an opportunity for developing economic and trade projects in our continent," the Egyptian president said, thanking president of Niger Mahamadou Issoufou as well as the head of the AU Commission Moussa Faki for organising a successful gathering in the West African nation.
"The African Union is one of the major sovereign institutions that address multiple key issues, projects and future plans," President El-Sisi stressed.
He added that the eight regional economic blocs in Africa play an indispensable role in upholding cohesion among African countries, making them the main pillars of boosting joint African action.
The Egyptian president called for appreciation of the effective role played by these blocs, which he said possess varied capabilities that give impetus for regional integration across the continent.
He added that the AU summit in Niger created an opportunity to enhance cohesion between the AU and the eight regional economic blocs, voicing support for investors showing eagerness to back Africa's economic and trade projects.
"African countries have adopted a political strategic view and launched many initiatives to render further projects a success alongside creating more job opportunities for African youth, aiming to achieve higher dreams and aspirations," the Egyptian president said.
El-Sisi stressed during Monday's coordinating meeting the necessity of tackling all challenges facing the continent.
"Though the summit is due to conclude today, the ongoing cooperation and integration among African countries will never come to an end, thanks to potential projects and future plans of action that predict a promising future for the continent," the Egyptian president asserted.
In his capacity as the president of the AU for 2019, President El-Sisi announced on Sunday that the AfCFTA has come into force to enhance the inter-African trade.
El-Sisi affirmed during the summit's opening ceremony that the agreeement will reinforce African countries' negotiating position on the international stage.
Around 4,500 delegates and guests – including 32 heads of state and more than 100 ministers – attended the AU 12th summit in Niamey.
Considered the largest trade bloc since the creation of the World Trade Organisation in 1994, the AfCFTA seeks to triple the volume of intra-African trade from 17 percent to 60 percent by 2022.
The 55-nation trade bloc aims at reducing imports, improving productive and manufacturing capacities and supporting infrastructure projects in Africa.