As part of Egypt’s keenness to rearrange the priorities of its foreign policy in the way that the Egyptian interest is growing, especially in light of the turbulent environment in the region, the Egyptian Council for Foreign Affairs has chosen the theme of “Egyptian-African relations … towards new horizons” in the annual Conference of 2017, which was held over a two day period from (23-24) December 2017, and addressed a number of topics with an African dimension and its intersection with the interests of the Egyptian agenda. During the first day, and during four sessions, which included the review of 14 research papers for a group of experts and researchers specialized in African affairs, emphasize has been placed on all aspects of the Egyptian-African relations and their various dimensions (political, economic, security and cultural). This is in addition to reviewing the Egyptian relations with the Nile Basin countries as well as the African powers, and trying to identify the opportunities that can be exploited to maximize the Egyptian benefit of these partnerships through different cooperation frameworks.
In light of the security challenges that have become the main challenge to the development plans pursued by the African continent and its poor peoples, the security axis in the Egyptian-African relations has been strongly present on the agenda of the Conference through several research papers, (terrorism, migration, human trafficking and refugees), especially in areas that have a direct impact on Egypt’s national security, particularly the Horn of Africa and the Red Sea. This is in addition to trying to highlight the common ground for cooperation, African conflict. This is in addition to trying to highlight the common ground of cooperation that can be the starting point of the Egyptian role, especially in the field of African peace and security.
In addition to the above, the developmental dimension and the economic axis were among the main focus of the sessions in the framework of enhancing the movement for the Egyptian role. The economic and trade opportunities that cooperation partnerships between Egypt and the continent will be explored by examining the current status of Egyptian-African relations, especially in East Africa, and the opportunities for industrial cooperation with the continent, in addition to evaluating the Egyptian development tools in Africa and ways to modernize them through the Egyptian Agency for Partnership for Development, or launching new regional initiatives. As well as the roles of the relevant ministries in this regard, and then crystallize a vision through which it can enhance the Egyptian economic interests in the continent.
On the framework of cultural cooperation between Egypt and African countries, considered as one of the areas through which the Egyptian relations can be strengthened and developed in the light of some common denominators through the religious component and other cultural components, the sessions focused on reviewing the current state of cultural and media communication between Egypt and African countries, as well as the tools that rely on this communication, and then discuss ways to develop them.
On the second day of the conference, and during three sessions, several papers were reviewed, focusing on the remaining issues of Egyptian foreign policy in the continent and discussing the opportunities to strengthen the Egyptian-African partnerships through the collective frameworks of African institutions. Through discussing the Egyptian role within the framework of the African Union (The Peace and Security Council, the peer mechanism, the mechanism of the wise men of Africa, African governance, the African Parliament) and its response to the Egyptian interests, as well as the opportunities and challenges that may face the Egyptian role in its partnerships with the sub regional groupings (ECOWAS, SADC, Moroccan Union, Central Union, Sahel and Sahara) and the financial potential that are provided by the African development institutions (African Development Bank, African Export and Import Bank) can provide for Egypt’s development projects.
On the international cooperation frameworks that the African environment may provide, given its geopolitical importance, with the international partners in different countries of the world, which have implications for the relations (Egyptian – African), especially if these partnerships are in a competitive framework with the Egyptian role on the spheres of influence on the continent, and hence the focus was placed on most of these partnerships, including partnerships (European, Asian and Middle Eastern), as well as addressing some of the roles of regional and international powers that affect the Egyptian interests in the continent (specifically water security), and these roles, Turkish, Iranian, Israeli and American, and then try to determine the dimensions of these roles And to work on developing a vision for the Arab movement towards these movements that affect its interests.