Address by his Excellency President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi in the Opening Session of the 32nd AU Summit
Sunday، 10 February 2019 - 09:13 AM
In the Name of Allah the Almighty,
Your Majesties, Excellencies and Highnesses… Kings and Heads of State and Government of African Countries
His Excellency the President of the State of Palestine,
Brothers and Sisters,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Allow me to begin my word by expressing gratitude and appreciation to my brother; Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and the brotherly people of Ethiopia for their generous hospitality and warm reception. I also thank my brother President Paul Kagame for his sincere efforts to promote joint African action and his tireless efforts during his tenure of presidency of the African Union, and the consequent significant progress in the reform of the African Union, thus making it more capable of fulfilling the important responsibilities entrusted to it within the context of regional and international conditions in which the challenges and risks facing the African interests are intertwined. I would like to stress that Egypt will work hard to continue the path we have embarked on together as regards the institutional, structural and financial reform of the Union, will complete the achievements made so far, so as to emphasize the ownership of the member states to their continental organization and to develop the tools and capabilities of the Union and its Commission to meet the aspirations and hopes of the African peoples.
I also extend my sincere congratulations to His Excellency President Cyril Ramaphosa of the Republic of South Africa, on his election to assume the presidency of the African Union in 2020. I believe that our cooperation as a troika of Presidents of the Union will support the continuity and institutionalization within the framework of the joint African action and will also enhance our African solidarity.
I would also like to welcome the African leaders who are presiding over the delegations of their countries for the first time in the meetings of the African Union Summit, congratulating them for the confidence of their peoples, wishing them all the best in their endeavors and looking forward to cooperating with them so as to promote the joint African action.
I stand before you today and aware of the great responsibility that you have already entrusted to Egypt to coordinate the joint African action in an critical international and regional circumstance that is ravaged by extremism and waves of terrorism, in addition to the growing challenges that face the concept of state of nation meanwhile the peoples’ aspirations grow.
There is no reason to be optimist like our meeting for negotiating about our glorious continent’s affairs, coordinating our steps on the march of the happiness of hundreds of millions of our sons and grandchildren, which is the target of our work and effort.
More than half a century had passed since the meeting of the founding fathers who together laid the foundation stone of the African Unity in Addis Ababa in May 1963. In that day, the leader Gamal Abdel Nasser said “This will be a charter for Africa, meetings will be held on all official and popular levels and let’s start our path in the economic cooperation towards a joint African market”. More than half a century had passed from these words but its echo is still ever-present before us.
Since that historic moment until now, Africa has been able to go a long way and achieve most of the dreams. We have overcome most of the obstacles, faced the new challenges, get rid of colonialism but still its aftermaths. We are still working hard to strengthen bases of peace, security and stability as well as achieving the economic and continental integration for our countries and peoples to build the African human being. It is undoubtedly proven that common understanding and mutual respect among us are the greatest driving force for the African unity. Moreover, by deepen our united will, our common action can take off to all prospects that we aspire for. The late Ghanaian leader Kwame Nkrumah said: “our division is our weakness but by our unity, Africa will be one of the greatest powers in the world”.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I would like, in this regard, to ensure the importance of entrenching the principle “African solutions to African problems”. It is the only way to deal with the common challenges that we face. Africa is more able to understand its complicated problems and the specificities of its circumstances, so that it can find serious and real solutions and remedies in order to achieve its peoples’ interests and preserve them from foreign interference and also from falling in the claws of innovative and contemporary patterns of exploitation which are not relevant to its reality. Despite our hectic efforts to control and contain the conflicts in the continent; in addition to our ambitious plan to silence guns all over the continent by the year 2020, it is no secret that the way is still too long to end fighting in Africa. Together, we should pursue seeking an end to this painful page of the disputes history in Africa which badly affected the hopes for development in the continent.
We should believe in the necessity of protecting ourselves by development shield to treat the crises roots. For this reason, I call on the African leaders to work together in order to revive and activate the framework policy of our continent to reconstruct and achieve development in post-conflict phase, as well as placing executive action plans to reinforce the countries that have just ended its conflicts against the risks of deterioration. Furthermore, the policy should help in building the abilities of State institutions to perform their tasks in protecting their homeland and contribute to healing our societies’ wounds. We look forward to launching the activities of the African Union center for reconstruction and achieve development in post- conflict phase, that Cairo hosts, as soon as possible to be an overall coordinating platform and a mind for preparing specialized programs for the countries that have just ended their conflicts. Such programs take into account the country’s identity and protect its right to reconstruct and achieve development.
The work is going on to develop and enhance the African peace and security comprehensively and sustainably as a strategic goal for our continent. The mediation and protective diplomacy are still top priority of the African Union agenda. Moreover, we will enhance the coordination and adaptation between the mechanisms of peace and security continently and regionally in order to integrate without disruption and enhance the early and active response for various crises.
Terrorism is still considered a cancer that infiltrates inside the bodies of our African homelands, attacks the joints of the state and kidnaps the people’s dreams. Therefore, combatting terrorism comprehensively, needs to identify its supporters and financers and face it together. With our complete awareness of the difficulty of that battle, it is the best way to eradicate the terrorism roots and get rid of it. Also, we should refute the extremism poisonous that secretes terrorism and the necessity of enhancing the powerful national state institutions.
Bridging the gap between establishing peace and stability; in addition to yielding the people’s development fruits, is on top of the interests of the international peace and security forums. Also, the political leaderships give it great attention and instigate the best diplomatic, security and strategic minds. In this framework, it gives me pleasure to announce the launching of the first edition of Aswan Forum for peace and sustainable development in 2019 to be regional and continental platform gathering the political, intellectual, opinion, peace makers and development partners’ leaders in “Aswan City” the gem of The Nile to discuss together the joint horizons between peace and sustainable development in order to make a remarkable difference in peoples’ life and spread hope in their spirits.
Ladies and Gentlemen ,
The African Union Summit is held today, under the theme "Refugees, Returnees, and Internally Displaced Persons: Towards Durable Solutions to Forced Displacement in Africa". Here, I would like to emphasize that we are about to face several diseases as the spread of conflicts, brutality of terrorism, barbarity of extremism, climate change, severity of poverty, water scarcity and drought are factors that combine to force people to leave their homes. The effects of these crises are obvious in Africa as the number of refugees is about 8 million, 90% of whom are refugees within the continent.
Moreover, the number of the displaced persons is about 18 million. This urges us to adopt a development approach that includes mega continental and regional projects to provide job opportunities to the citizens of the continent; innovative reconstructing programs that rehabilitate the communities to provide proper conditions for bringing back the displaceds to their homes; and a medium-term development plan that will create integrated and attractive economic zones throughout the continent to employ the African workforce and keep them in their motherlands.
In this context, we should intensify our scientific cooperation to take advantage of the natural resources of the continent to diversify energy sources by supporting renewable and clean energy projects, thereby contributing to mitigating the ecological impacts of climate change that affect the lives of our peoples. Africa, which is committed to protect our planet in accordance with the Paris Climate Agreement, calls on the developed countries to abide by their commitments, especially as these countries have the most influence on the Earth's climate, and they benefit most from its resources.
Ladies and Gentlemen ,
Africa has gained a lot by adopting common and unified positions in international multilateral discussions and negotiations. This prompts us to consolidate African consensus to defend the African interests, particularly with regard to the right of the States to have development programs and Africa's historical right to fair representation in the UN Security Council, in a way that reflects the African common position in accordance with the Ezulwini Consensus and the Sirte Declaration .
Day after day, the great African women regain their pivotal role in contributing to the leadership of our continent. I pay tribute to them as they bear and still the scourge of war with patience and to overcome the scarcity of resources with exerting more efforts. I tell you, women of Africa, that you have unlimited opportunities and that nothing would prevent you from realizing your hopes and asserting your leadership. You have to continue your efforts, and have knowledge and will; and we have to open all doors for realizing your hopes and dreams.
To the youths of Africa; the strong heart and youthful arms of the continent, I say that we exert efforts and make plans, hoping that we will leave the continent to you stronger than what we have inherited, and that we will open to you wider horizons and create tools that will enable you to steer the wheel of the safe and secured Africa. Be confident that we always believe in you and your dreams. You have to work hard as your continent needs your serious and constant efforts. Plant the seeds for a bright future before you rush towards migration adventures that are closer to suicide, and consider before following the extremism allegations that hold you in the crushing grip of terrorism .
I tell Africa’s partners that partnership with Africa is a genuine opportunity to achieve the common interests and score a profitable investment. From this forum, Africa calls on the global and international private institutions to embark on investment in our continent. The African markets are open and investment climate is proper, besides our soil is rich in resources and we have a huge human resource and a relentless determination to build the future of our continent. I call upon the regional and international finance institutions to undertake their roles in financing the development in Africa and provide flexible conditions that help the African countries to bring their dreams to reality.
Brothers and Sisters,
Our success to achieve targets of the socio-economic development largely hangs on our capability of facing together this challenge, so it is our duty to work jointly overcome the obstacles that hinder the African common action through focus on three axes:
The first axis is boosting the regional integration efforts, and the best way to this end is upgrading of the African infrastructure through increasing the trans- border projects and encouraging investment in this field especially in the AU’s top priority projects like connecting Cairo-Cape Town by land, North-South power linkage and link the Mediterranean with Lake Victoria.
The second axis is acceleration of the continental integration through the establishment of the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA), which is one of the most important priorities of the AU. This will contribute to reducing the prices of many goods and increasing the African competitiveness internationally. Thus, surrounding circumstances oblige us to enhance our cooperation and intensify our efforts to bring the Agreement of the Area into force as soon as possible. Furthermore, we have to work together on completing the African trade, investment and economic system which enables us to achieve tangible results for our peoples.
The third and last axis represents the culmination of the two previous ones, namely seeking to provide more job opportunities for the youths. This mainly requires mobilization of national and international investments, attracting capital and localization of technology.
Your Majesties, Excellencies and Highnesses… Kings and Heads of State and Government of African Countries,
The Continent is attentively looking forward to us, and our decisions and works. We have no other choice but facing the challenge and proving that sons of this struggling soil are capable of offering ceaseless giving in order to find a better world for our peoples. Consequently, the joint African action is no longer a choice, yet it became imperative amidst an international situation that is full of challenges and difficulties the countries can not face unilaterally. From here, the importance of translating our words and decisions into specific practical steps is emphasized in a way that the world should be sure that we mean what we say, and the African solidarity is a vital entity that can move situations and impose itself on the events, and is not just a theoretical slogan. Our ancestors had the wisdom of the unity, and we draw courage from them, the courage that the late leader Nelson Mandela, which this hall is named after him, said about it: “It is not the absence of fear, but the ability to get over it”. It is our duty to renew the pledge to complete this march relentlessly and with inexhaustible inspiration in leaning willingly and enthusiastically, on the African solidarity rock that always reinforces the African peoples’ faith that its unity is the only way to preserve its rights and interests.
Long Live Africa and Long Live its Great Peoples,
May Peace, Mercy and Blessings of Allah be Upon You.