29 October 2021
In an initiative aimed at exchanging ideas among African development practitioners and thought leaders on issues of critical importance to the African continent, Egypt’s Ambassador to South Africa, Ahmed El Fadly, hosted a roundtable discussion on the role of international and regional institutions in supporting the implementation of the African Union development Agenda 2063 at his official residence on 26 October 2021.
Ambassadors and High Commissioners from a number of African countries, as well as the Secretary General of the Egyptian Agency of Partnership for Development (EAPD) and the UNIDO Representative and Head of its Regional Office in South Africa, gathered at Egypt House to discuss with guest speakers Dr. Ibrahim Mayaki, the Chief Executive Officer of the African Union Development Agency (AUDA-NEPAD) and Ms. Nardos Bekele-Thomas, the United Nations (UN) Resident Coordinator in South Africa, the role of AUDA-NEPAD and of the UN in helping African countries achieve the goals and aspirations set by Agenda 2063 thereby realizing “the Africa we want”.
Ambassador El Fadly set the tone of the discussions by alluding to the fact that this roundtable is being held two days after the world celebrated UN day on 24 October, and by inviting the guest speakers and attendees to reflect on how multilateral institutions like the UN and AUDA-NEPAD have helped the continent implement Agenda 2063. “How far, or how close, is Africa from achieving its development agenda,” he asked.
Dr. Ibrahim Mayaki gave a brief history of the AUDA-NEPAD, shedding light on some of its flagship projects that are supporting the continent in its efforts to achieve Agenda 2063. He also shared his thoughts on what Africa needs to do to ensure it builds productive capacity and continues on the path to sustainable development. “The continent needs to move from managing poverty to creating wealth, as well as towards industrialization”, he stressed. The CEO of AUDA-NEPAD also praised the cooperation with the UN, explaining that the two organizations share a common framework since 2018. He also made the point that despite the many challenges facing the continent, “Africa has still enormous success stories in many fields”.
Ms. Nardos Bekele-Thomas emphasized that it is crucial for Africans to know that they play a crucial role in setting the development agenda at the global level, through the coordination mechanisms existing within the AU. A clear example of that, she said, was how Africans elaborated their own Agenda 2063, which then became the cornerstone of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The UN Resident Coordinator in South Africa also emphasized that the role of the UN is essentially to support the national plans of countries, which should converge with the regional plans.
Ambassador El Fadly raised the issue of continental integration, stressing the importance of breaking away from the artificial boundaries inherited from colonialism that have divided the continent into North, South, East, West and Central. He invited guests to explore how African countries could be better connected, including through the Cairo to Cape Road. He explained that this road creates a development corridor connecting Egypt and South Africa through seven other African countries, representing one third of the continent’s population and one half of its GDP. It has the potential of bringing about continental stability and renaissance by promoting trade, investment and tourism.
Ambassador El Fadly also touched upon the issue of industrialization in the continent, highlighting the efforts exerted by Egypt, at the private and public levels, to promote industrial integration in Africa, in sectors such as the power sector as well as the automotive and pharmaceutical industries.
Interventions by the two guest speakers and Ambassador El Fadly triggered fruitful and though-provoking reflections from the roundtable participants on a multitude of issues of relevance to the continent’s development agenda such as: challenges to implementation of programs in the continent, monitoring and evaluation of commitments, resource mobilization, domestication of Agenda 2063, as well as the opportunities brought to Africa by the fourth industrial revolution.
By Ayman Walash, Counselor – Head of the Press & Information Office, Embassy of the Arab Republic of Egypt in Pretoria, South Africa