Saturday,18 August, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1240, (2 - 8 April 2015)
Saturday,18 August, 2018
Issue 1240, (2 - 8 April 2015)

Ahram Weekly

Egypt at COMESA summit

Prime minister Ibrahim Mehleb attended this week’s COMESA summit meeting in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, inviting delegates to attend the opening of the new Suez Canal, reports Doaa El-Bey

Al-Ahram Weekly

Prime minister Ibrahim Mehleb invited delegates at the COMESA summit meeting in Addis Ababa to attend the inauguration of the newly expanded Suez Canal, which will include a new lane to allow ships to pass in opposite directions at the same time. The canal is due to be opened in August.

He also called on delegates to invest in a commercial zone to be established near the extended Suez Canal, the invitations coming during his participation in the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) summit on 30-31 March in the Ethiopian capital.

Mehleb led the Egyptian delegation to the summit, which discussed peace and security in Africa and addressed key issues of the economic partnership agreement with the European Union.

The Egyptian embassy in Ethiopia said in a statement issued before the summit that COMESA condemned the terrorist threats Egypt was presently experiencing. COMESA gave its full support for Egypt's efforts in fighting terrorism, according to the statement.

The theme of the summit meeting is inclusive and sustainable industrialisation, and 19 African countries attended the meeting held on Monday and Tuesday. COMESA is a free-trade area founded in 1994 that extends from Libya in the north of the continent to Swaziland in the south.

During the summit, Mehleb held meetings with top African officials, including the vice-presidents of Uganda and the Seychelles. He was keen to deliver the message that Egypt had returned to its active role in Africa and was willing to establish greater cooperation with African states on the bilateral as well as multilateral levels.

The meeting was also a chance to further strengthen Cairo’s ties with Addis Ababa amid negotiations over the latter’s Grand Renaissance Dam. 

President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi recently called for a new era of cooperation and development between Egypt and Ethiopia in a speech delivered to the Ethiopian parliament last week. He also called on Egyptian businessmen in Addis Ababa to establish industrial zones in Ethiopia.

Last week, Egypt signed a Declaration of Principles with Ethiopia and Sudan in which the three countries agreed broad guidelines on Ethiopia's contested Dam, which Egypt has feared could affect its much-needed supply of water from the Blue Nile.

A company to conduct technical studies on the effect of the Dam is expected to be picked by the three countries soon, after months of bidding and delays.

Ethiopia's 6,000 Megawatt Dam, of which 40 per cent is already complete, is set to be Africa's largest and is feared could negatively affect the share of the Nile’s water received by the downstream countries of Egypt and Sudan.

Egypt will host more meetings in the future to further boost its role in Africa. Cairo is expected to host a joint conference of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC), the East African Community (EAC) and COMESA in June in Sharm El-Sheikh.

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