"Africa in the Heart of Egypt"
The Egyptian-African relations have been in a state of stagnation, reflected in political and economic relations, and have kept Egypt away from the African continent for several years, but in the past period, Egypt has begun moving to restore its status and strengthen its relations with the countries of the continent. In this context, Canada Egypt Business council and The Egyptian Council for Sustainable Development organized an event with Ambassador of the Republic of Tanzania H.E. Mohammed Hamza, Ambassador of the Republic of Rwanda H.E. Sheikh Saleh Habimana and Second Secretary of the Republic of Uganda Mr. Robert Mugimba to identify the opportunities and challenges facing the Egyptian-African relations.
In the opening remark, Eng. Motaz Raslan mentioned that the volume of trade exchange between Egypt and the African countries is between about 4 to 5 billion dollars, and that the total Egyptian investment in Africa does not exceed 8 billion dollars, that weak figures do not reflect the great opportunities and possibilities between Egypt and the countries of the continent, especially in light of the many agreements that have not yet been exploited to achieve the ambitions of the countries of the continent in terms of economic integration or the development of intra-trade. The opportunities are huge, but the will to cooperate is needed; as we have a huge market of 1.2 billion people, we have promising opportunities in all sectors, strong working capital, and a history of cooperative relations to make a quantum leap in all areas. He added that the Egyptian movements to restore its status and relations with the African continents have recently witnessed a state of convergence with many African countries.
Mr. Sharif al-Gabali, the chairman of the African Affairs Committee explained that there is a strategy to strengthen cooperation between the African countries, which aims to raise the volume of the annual trade to about $ 7 billion, compared to the size of the current trade which is $ 3.8 billion; in order to boost the Egyptian trade with the continent’s countries. Currently, the strategy is working on creating 12 centers to encourage investors to invest in the whole continent and exploit the facilities offered to them, stressing on his desire to strengthen African countries relations with Egypt, and increase the trade movement and investment across the continent.
Ambassador Mohamed Hamza, Ambassador of the State of Tanzania in Egypt discussed that the African continent can not only continue as a source of raw materials, pointing out that the African countries are rich in natural resources, so they need to industrialize to maximize the value added of these resources. He added that his country is seeking to strengthen bilateral relations with Egypt in the coming period and to invite Egyptian investors to invest in his country, because Tanzania will be a gateway for crossing of Egyptian products to eight African countries: Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Malawi, Burundi, the Congo, Zambia, and Mozambique.
Ambassador Hamza pointed out that the economic sectors attracting investment are in agriculture, mining, power generation, IT and infrastructure. The mining and exploration sector is preparing to extract 6 trillion cubic meters of natural gas by 2019, in addition to hunting and food industries, which have a coastline of 1,000 km. Tanzania also is a country that supports investment and encourage anti-corruption policies, also there are many laws that protect investment and allow investors to transfer their profits to their country after the payment of taxes.
Mr. Robert Mugimba Second Secretary of the Republic of Uganda illustrated that his country provides a sole place for investment licenses instead of going to more than one destination, which is called the unified service center; he continued that there is a number of Egyptian companies working in his country, including Banque du Caire, the Arab Contractors and others. He pointed out that his country has a good strategic location, although it is deprived of beaches, but it has boarders with a number of important countries such as Tanzania, Kenya, and Congo. It also offers a number of advantages, most notably the abolition of customs on equipment for manufacturing, which should benefit Egyptian companies in Uganda.
The ambassador of Rwanda in Cairo, Sheikh Saleh Habimana, said that his country has the largest quantities of minerals in the world, adding that Rwanda is a small 23-year-old country that needs large capital, stressing that the country is free from corruption and crime, and enjoys peace after years of war and destruction. He also mentioned that the visit of President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi to his country has opened a new page between the two countries and that there are promising opportunities for Egyptian investors in several sectors, most notably the real estate investment sector and construction.
The floor was opened for questions and answers session concerning promoting and developing trade and economic relations between Egypt and the African continent and discussing the means of access of the Egyptian commodities to the African market in the upcoming period.