Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi on Saturday expressed confidence in the African Union (AU) to contribute to the advancing of efforts aimed at reaching a binding legal deal on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) before the second filling of the dam.
The AU has been mediating the talks between Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia over the dispute caused by GERD since last year.
Last year, Ethiopia unilaterally completed the first filling of the GERD and plans to execute the second filling of the dam next July.
Addressing the African Union's 34th summit - held virtually - El-Sisi congratulated Congolese President Félix Tshisekedi for assuming the chairmanship of the AU this year.
El-Sisi thanked the outgoing chair of the AU, President Ramaphosa, for his “appreciated” efforts in reaching a comprehensive, fair and balanced agreement.
El-Sisi referred to Ramaphosa’s keenness of participating in person in the negotiations to reach a legal agreement on GERD as a “reflection of his highness’s keenness to advance the common interests of the African nations and to seek solutions for the issues and crises facing our continent”.
“Egypt has engaged, with good faith and seriousness, in the African path, in a bid to reach the desired agreement that takes into account the interests and rights of the concerned parties, a goal that cannot be achieved except with the availability of the political will of all parties” El-Sisi added.
El-Sisi welcomed an invitation for Egypt to join the African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team (AVATT).
The AU’s AVATT started the operation last month. It was established by South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa to serve as a component of the Africa vaccine strategy.
President El-Sisi affirmed Egypt’s keenness to carry out its responsibilities with the aim of securing the coronavirus vaccine for the African countries.
El-Sisi urged cooperation among governments and people of the African states to control the pandemic.
“There is no doubt that the coronavirus pandemic represents a great challenge to our African continent,” said El-Sisi.
He added that this “requires more solidarity and cooperation between our people and our governments, in order to curb the spread of the virus and limit its dangerous repercussions on the lives and the future of our people and our children.”
The president affirmed Egypt’s full support to the desired goals of advancing the AU’s institutions, supporting the AU agenda 2063 and its first 10-year plan, as well as implementing the entitlements of the bloc’s theme of the Year 2021 “Arts, Culture and Heritage”.
“In this regard, I want to emphasise the importance of protecting our African heritage and constructively promoting African culture, especially as we are in the process of opening many cultural, archaeological and museum projects”.
The president mentioned the new Giza-based Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM) as an example of these projects.
Concerning development efforts in the continent, El-Sisi referred to Egypt’s “pioneering experience” in developing infrastructure projects as “an example that we would be happy to share with our African brothers, as a tool to enhance stability and developments in Africa”.
The president mentioned a number of “ambitious” projects to develop the continent’s infrastructure and achieve integration among its states, including the Cairo-Cape Town road set to pass through nine African states.
He also mentioned the navigation line project to link the Mediterranean Sea with Lake Victoria as an example of the continental program to develop infrastructure.
This program “represents the most prominent cornerstone in achieving the desired integration … and a fundamental pillar for activating the [African] Continental Free Trade Area.”
“I conclude my speech before you, with hopes of an actual meeting soon after we have turned the page of the coronavirus pandemic forever,” said El-Sisi.
He expressed hope that the AU is allowed “to resume holding our summits and brotherly activities face to face, continue the serious and hard work with the aim of achieving progress that is aspired by the African continent and that achieves our aspiration and desired goals.”