Egypt PM: African development promotes Egypt’s security

Prime Minister Essam Sharaf stressed that his current tour in Africa, which includes a visit to Uganda and Ethiopia, represents a new strategy in the Egyptian foreign policy.

The new approach is characterized by efforts to establish joint cooperation projects with African countries and enhancing relations by promoting common interests, according to Sharaf.

He added that any African country’s development is beneficial for Egypt and bolsters the latter’s national security.

Sharaf pointed out that he will meet with Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi to discuss how to turn over a new page in relations that goes beyond Nile water issues.

“We have plans for cooperation in all economic and cultural spheres,” said Sharaf, adding that both Egypt and Ethiopia need each other.

Sharaf also said that he invited the Ugandan president to visit Egypt and that he will also invite the Ethiopian prime minister.

“The volume of Egyptian investment in Ethiopia has reached US$2 billion while the volume of trade between the two countries has risen to US$680 million,” said Ayman Eissa, president of the Ethiopian-Egyptian Business Council.

He pointed out that signing a treaty last month to avoid double taxation on commerce between Egypt and Ethiopia would help increase the volume of trade between the two countries.

Eissa added that many fields, like that of infrastructure projects, are ripe for investment in Ethiopia.

Thirty-four Egyptian companies applied for permission to import meat from Ethiopia, said Eissa, commenting that many problems, like poor transportation and the lack of veterinary quarantines, hamper the import of meat from Ethiopia.

Mahmoud Dardir, the Ethiopian ambassador to Egypt, said that Sharaf’s visit to Ethiopia helped mitigate feelings of apathy between Egypt and Ethiopia. He noted that the popular delegation preceding Sharaf's visit helped overcome the former Egyptian regime's negative impact on bilateral relations.

He stressed the importance of taking a more comprehensive view of Egyptian-Ethiopian relations, one that is not limited to the problem of Nile water.

“The fields of cooperation between Egypt and Ethiopia are large – and they are not limited to energy and water projects only – in light of Ethiopian desires to build more projects and develop many areas including energy, roads and industry,” said Ilham Ibrahim, an expert at the African Development Fund (ADF).

Father Siderak, the representative of the Egyptian Coptic Church in Ethiopia, stressed that the Egyptian church and its Ethiopian counterpart are working on strengthening relations between the two countries. He pointed out that Ethiopia’s prime minister pledged to change the Renaissance Dam’s design if it was proven it would affect Egypt's share of Nile water.

He added that the Ethiopian prime minister suggested that Ethiopia might build up a store of 62 billion liters, the amount of water it needs to generate electricity, over a period exceeding five years, if accumulating the amount more quickly harmed Egypt’s interests.

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