By Ikenna Asomba

Ahead of the Africa 2017 Forum billed for 7-9 December, 2017, in Sharm El- Sheikh, Egypt, H.E. Abdel Fattah Al Sisi, President of the Arab Republic of Egypt, has stated that the Forum will provide a good opportunity for all participants to share their best practices in order to mutually benefit from the diverse experiences and backgrounds that Africa enjoys.

A welcome note personally signed by Al Sisi, ahead of the Forum, read: “Fellow African brothers, and dear friends from around the world; it gives me an immense pleasure to invite you to join us at the “Africa 2017 Forum” to be held in Sharm El- Sheikh from the 7th to the 9th of December 2017.

“The Forum aims at providing a platform for heads of state and government, as well as private sector and business leaders in Africa and the world in order to discuss a wide range of business and development issues in the Continent and to engage with some of Africa’s most important economic partners and stakeholders.

“The “Africa 2017 Forum” will focus on success stories while drawing lessons from the past. This will help us design solutions to spur investment, and to accelerate job creation and more inclusive growth.

“The Forum will also provide a good opportunity for all participants to share their best practices in order to mutually benefit from the diverse experiences and backgrounds that Africa enjoys.

“In  light  of  Egypt’s  commitment  to  enhance  intra-African  trade  and investment, we have hosted two years ago the launch of the Tripartite Free Trade Area (TFTA) between the three African trade blocs COMESA, EAC and SADC.”

According to Al Sisi, “The signature of the TFTA in Sharm El- Sheikh in June 2015 was an important step in the direction of creating a continental free trade area, which would encompass all African nations.

“These endeavors primarily aim at facilitating trade across the Continent, supporting African nations in their quest for development and prosperity as well as pushing forward regional integration efforts.

“It is noteworthy that despite adverse global economic headwinds, African economies have proved to be resilient and remain among the most attractive destinations for global investment.

“Nevertheless, there remains a need for doubling  our  common  efforts  to  deepen  economic  cooperation  and integration in order to achieve the development and progress to which our African nations aspire.

“In Egypt, we have recently adopted significant reforms to improve our business environment and overall country competitiveness. We are in the midst of implementing a comprehensive development programme aimed at addressing  structural imbalances,   restoring   macroeconomic  stability, promoting  growth  and  job  creation  and  building  knowledge-based industries. In the same vein, we have launched many ambitious mega-projects, which include the establishment of a special economic zone along the Suez Canal, one of the most important sea lanes around the globe.

“This is in addition to the construction of a number of new cities, including an administrative capital on the outskirts of Cairo.

“Due to our strong conviction in the crucial role of women and youth in the economic development process, Egypt has designated 2017 as the “Year of Women”.

“Enhancing the role of women in our societies will enable us to better deliver on our development agenda. For that reason, empowering women will be an important aspect of the Africa 2017 Forum’s programme this year. On the other hand, the “Young Entrepreneurs Day” will ensure youth’s engagement and their central position in the Forum’s programme as well.

He further stated that “Our successes, as African countries, are closely interconnected. In Egypt, We are committed to playing an active role in helping strengthen regional ties and in building greater economic integration across the continent.

“I look forward to welcoming you all to Sharm El- Sheikh to participate in “Africa 2017 Forum” from the 7th to 9th December 2017.”