Taking part in the China-Africa virtual Conference 2021: “China-Africa Trade and Investment” roundtable discussion, organized by the London School of Economics (LSE), Minister of International Cooperation Dr. Rania Al-Mashat, addressed means for promoting bilateral and multilateral ties between China and African countries across various sectors, and emphasized the profound role multilateralism plays in achieving inclusive and sustainable development.
Moderated by Shirley Ze Yu, Chair and Professor at the Firoz Lalji Institute for Africa, London School of Economics (LSE), and hosted by Firoz Lalji Institute for Africa, this roundtable aims to further enhance the Chinese-African relations, so as to expand the cooperation scope.
This discussion took place in the presence of the World Bank’s Vice President and Treasurer, Jingdong Hua; Asian Infrastructure Development Bank’s Chief Risk Officer, Martin Kimmig; the New Development Bank’s Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, Leslie Maasdro.
During the discussion, the participants tackled China’s role in enhancing Africa’s future, as the African continent, together with China, have profound potential to explore and develop fields of trade and industry, and contribute in implementing Official Development Assistance (ODA) projects, towards advancing the green economy.
Al-Mashat stated that one of the silver linings of the COVID-19 pandemic is that it has underlined the importance of multilateralism; highlighting that working together is key for recovery.
The Minister added that the pandemic has shown the private sector’s vital role in achieving an inclusive growth that pushes forward the green recovery, which comes within the framework of the Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) principles.
In order to move forward, the Minister emphasized the importance of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement as a very important mechanism in promoting infrastructure development and in addressing the key role of the local private sector in attaining growth. H.E. further referred to the “Belt and Road” project, implemented by the Governments of China and Egypt to enhance peace and stability in the region; stating that this project ties in with the 2030 Sustainable Development agenda as well as the 2063 African agenda.
World Bank’s Vice President and Treasurer, Jingdong Hua emphasized that Africa is a catalyst for private investments, whereby the private sector’s engagement could reinforce multilateral cooperation. Hua praised Egypt’s issuance of $750 million in green bonds in what was the region’s first sovereign offering of climate-friendly securities. Issuing green bonds also comes within Egypt’s strategy to enhance financial sustainability and support green investments.
Hua touched upon the Benban Solar Park project, which was carried out in cooperation with several private companies. The Benban Solar Park is the flagship project that has embodied Egypt’s vision of public-private collaborations for the advancement of the UN SDGs.
On his part, the Asian Infrastructure Development Bank’s Chief Risk Officer, Martin Kimmig stated that the AIIB has a vast growing investment program in Egypt; expressing his optimism in developing sectors of health and education.
Minister Al-Mashat expressed the Government of Egypt’s appreciation to the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) for financing development projects in Egypt since 2018, both sovereign and private; stressing the success story of Egypt with the AIIB in implementing Mega Projects such as Benban Solar Park.
On his part, Leslie Maasdro, the New Development Bank’s Vice President and Chief Financial Officer stressed that multilateral banks have to play a leading central role in contributing to Africa’s recovery; supporting the countries’ national agendas in order to achieve an overall global development that suits all stakeholders.
Al-Mashat referred to the Egypt – International Cooperation Forum (ICF): “Engaging for Impact” that was held on September 8th and 9th, under the patronage of President Abdel Fattah El Sisi, specifying that the workshop titled ‘South-South and Triangular Cooperation’ delved into supporting efforts of developing and emerging countries in achieving progress, pointing out that the Ministry of International Cooperation is coordinating with multilateral and bilateral development partners in light of Egypt — ICF to support the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Al-Mashat reviewed the Ministry’s role in advancing international partnerships through adopting the three principles of Economic Diplomacy to achieve development: the organization of Multi-Stakeholder Platforms; the mapping of the ODA to the UN SDGs Framework that was done by the Ministry, allocating its $25 billion portfolio to the 17 SDGs; and the adoption of a consistent Global Partnerships Narrative that puts People at the Core through Projects in Action with Purpose as the Driver.
China is among Egypt’s closest Development Partners, where both countries have signed the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership Agreement during the Presidential visit to China in 2014.
The ongoing portfolio of cooperation with China amounts to $1.8 billion, directed to the implementation of several development projects across various sectors such as health, agriculture, education, technical education, electricity, and many more.
Over the span of four years, 1,110 training programs were carried out with China, benefiting more than 4,000 governmental officials, in addition to 25 training programs in high-priority fields, benefiting 300 governmental cadres in the fields of health, agriculture, population, and water resources.