Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El Sisi asserted that there is a close link between the food and water security, noting that Egypt viewed them as an issue of national security, in a way that necessitates the availability of a political will to formulate a legal framework for managing the track of cooperation among the countries which share the water resources in order to achieve development without inflicting any harm.
Addressing a leaders’ session held on the fringe of the US-African Leaders Summit under the title of “Promoting Food Security and Food Systems Resilience”, Sisi pressed the need for taking into consideration the impact of international crises on the economies of our countries especially regarding foreign debt, a matter which imposes outlining mechanisms for alleviating the debts’ burden whether through exemption, exchange or soft repayment.
Sisi said “over the past few days during the proceedings of the UN Climate Summit, discussions covered one of the most serious challenges facing us, and today we meet to probe another important issue which is the food security.”
If the efforts exerted during the UN Summit succeeded in working out tangible outcome, but unfortunately our efforts failed to bear fruit to end hunger in the world, Sisi said, noting that the international reports pointed out to a rise in the hunger rates over the past three years after it has been maintained since 2015.
Sisi noted that international statistics estimated the rise of the number of people who suffer from food insecurity to 800 million people in 2022, with an increase of 150 million in the records of 2019, adding that more than a third of such figures are from Africa.
Sisi reviewed Egypt’s vision to enhance food security in Africa, asserting the importance of intensifying agricultural investments directed to Africa in order to develop its production and storage capacities via introducing modern technologies with easy terms.
The Egyptian president also reiterated the necessity for maintaining an openness to the international trade movement, noting that the African Free Trade Agreement provided a framework that could enhance integration among the countries of the continent. He also voiced hope that major countries could extend help to Africa to optimize its potentials via investment in infrastructure and agricultural projects.
As regards the outcome of the UN Climate Summit, hosted by Egypt in early November, Sisi said Egypt launched several initiatives in the climate adaption funding including the Cairo Center for Learning and Excellence on Adaptation and Resilience, announced by Egypt, to build adaptation capacity across Africa, as well as an initiative on food and agriculture for sustainable transition in cooperation with the UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO).
Sisi also said that the UN Climate Summit has drawn a special attention to the commitment of the developed countries to provide dlrs100 billion annually to counter the climate change, noting that the conference has succeeded for the first time to establish a special fund for the developing countries to compensate the losses and damage caused by climate change and voiced hope for activating the fund’s structure as soon as possible.
Sisi also asserted that the African states outlined several promising initiatives in contribution to international efforts to settle the food crisis, pointing out to the African Development Bank (AfDB)’s allocating dlrs 1.5 billion to support the purchase of strategic commodities, the launching of the Food and Agriculture Resilience Mission (FARM) initiative for food security in the most vulnerable countries. The initiative is implemented in cooperation between the African Union and France.
He also mentioned that the African countries should use the innovative Africa Exchange Trade Platform (ATEX) and boost digital trade in critical commodities under the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
ATEX is a digital business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-government (B2G) exchange platform developed by ECA and the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank), in collaboration with the African Union Commission and the AfCFTA Secretariat.
Sisi also voiced Egypt’s readiness to share its expertise with the African countries as regards Egypt’s measures to enhance its food security, citing the initiative of cultivating the 1.5 million feddans to increase the agricultural farmlands and the silos national project which doubles the grains’s storage capacity in Egypt.
The Egyptian president also highlighted measures to rationalize the use of water, the 2050 plan to develop the State’s potentials to desalinate water, noting that Egypt is among the biggest states which are conducting water treatment processes.
Sisi expressed his appreciation to US President Joe Biden for his good hospitability and the organization of this great event (the US-African Leaders Summit) which comes at a very exceptional timing the world is facing.
He said eight years have passed since the first edition of the US-African Summit and during this period, there has been various changes and challenges that renewed the resolve for developing partnership between Africa and the US in a way that could help in finding solutions to ease the burdens on our peoples and secure a better future for them.
Sisi also praised the invitation of Biden on holding such summit which expressed his deep interest in listening to the voice of Africa.
The Egyptian president also called on the US to invest its economic weight in Africa to enhance the response mechanisms for the food crisis especially as part of the Global Alliance for Food Security in the G7 and the Global Crisis Response Group on Food, Energy and Finance in the UN Secretariat.
He also asked the US to invest its economic weight in alleviating the burdens of debt on the most afflicted countries, noting that the debt rate has reached serious levels exceeding 250 percent of their revenues, a matter which required taking urgent measures and exempting these countries from parts of their debts as well as activating the G20 initiative to suspend debts and formulate mechanisms to exchange the debts for investments.
Sisi also held the international funding institutions responsible for facilitating developing countries to obtain sustainable funding and ease the loans’ terms to comply with the nature of their economies, outlining emergency mechanisms to propel growth and create a social security network to maintain the social fabric of these countries.
He also reiterated the need to work out mechanisms to facilitate the availability of commodities in order to reduce prices.
The Egyptian president wrapped up his speech by vocing hope that this summit would adopt a vision and translate it into applicable initiatives to respond to the aspirations of the African peoples and enhance ties between the US and the African continent.