Egypt has had a long-standing relationship with the African continent and has played a critical role in the establishment and success of the African Union (AU). As a member country of the AU, Egypt celebrates Africa Day annually on May 25th. The day serves as a reminder of the country’s commitment to the continent’s unity, diversity, and progress, and provides an opportunity to renew its pledge towards working towards a brighter future for Africa and its people.
Egypt’s relationship with the African continent can be traced back to the leadership of Gamal Abdel Nasser, who was a staunch supporter of African liberation movements. Nasser’s vision was to unite Africa and create a strong, independent continent that could assert itself on the world stage. He saw the struggle for African independence as a continuation of the struggle against colonialism, which had oppressed and exploited African people for centuries.
Under Nasser’s leadership, Egypt played a critical role in the establishment of the Organization of African Unity (OAU), which was established in 1963 to promote the unity and solidarity of African states and to work towards the eradication of colonialism and apartheid in Africa. Egypt was one of the founding members of the organization and played an active role in its activities.
Egypt’s commitment to the OAU was demonstrated through its participation in various initiatives aimed at promoting the organization’s objectives. For example, Egypt played a leading role in the establishment of the African Development Bank (AfDB), which was created to promote economic development in Africa. Additionally, Egypt was a key player in the establishment of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, which was adopted by the OAU in 1981. Through these efforts, Egypt contributed significantly to the OAU’s mission of promoting economic growth, social progress, and cultural development in Africa.
The Journey to the formation of the OAU
In 1958 at the all-African people`s conference in, Accra-Ghana, all the speakers at the conference from the West African nations unanimously spoke against the prevailing racism and colonialism that was happening in Africa at the time and called on Africans to unite in their fight for liberation from colonialism. The Pan-African Freedom Movement of East and Central Africa (PAFMECA) was formed in 1958 to campaign for the independence of the countries of East and Central Africa from colonial and white minority rule, although this movement was short-lived.
The Casablanca group (7th January 1961), composed of Ghana, Guinea, Mali, Morocco and the Algerian Provisional Government, felt that political unity and continental integration for the African people was required among the independent African countries.
The Monrovia group (8th -12th May 1961) was composed of Liberia, Ivory Coast (now Côte d’Ivoire), Cameroon, Senegal, Malagasy Republic (now Madagascar), Togo, Dahomey (now Benin), Chad, Niger Upper Volta (now Burkina Faso), Congo Brazzaville, Central Africa Republic, Gabon, Ethiopia and Libya called for a market-driven development economy.
To a stunned world that had dismissed the possibility of African Unity, all these regional groupings decided to come together to uphold the dignity of Africa and form a united front to fight for the complete independence of Africa’s peoples.
The founders of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) in 1963 .
In May 1963, Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia, and Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt convened a meeting of thirty-two newly independent African countries in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia which culminated in the formation of the Organization of African Unity (OAU).
The OAU was replaced by the African Union (AU) in 2002. The AU has a broader mandate than the OAU and is committed to promoting economic integration, political unity, and peace and security across the continent. Egypt continues to be an active member of the AU and participates in various initiatives aimed at promoting regional integration, economic development, and peace and security in Africa.
Egypt and Africa Day
Egypt’s commitment to Africa is not limited to economic development alone. The country has also been at the forefront of regional peace and security initiatives. For example, Egypt has been an active participant in the African Union’s peacekeeping missions in various African countries, including Somalia, Sudan, and South Sudan. Egypt’s military expertise and resources have been instrumental in the success of these missions.
On Africa Day, Egypt joins other African countries in reflecting on the continent’s progress and challenges. The day provides an opportunity for Egypt to reaffirm its commitment to working with its African partners towards addressing the challenges facing the continent and promoting sustainable development across the continent. Egypt’s continued support for Africa’s development is a testament to its longstanding relationship with the continent and its belief in Africa’s potential to achieve socio-economic and political development.
Overall, Egypt’s role in the establishment of the OAU and its continued commitment to Africa’s development demonstrates its longstanding relationship with the continent and its belief in Africa’s potential to achieve socio-economic and political development. Through its participation in various initiatives aimed at promoting regional integration, economic development, and peace and security, Egypt has made significant contributions to Africa’s progress and has demonstrated its commitment to working with its African partners towards addressing the challenges facing the continent and promoting sustainable development across the continent.
Egypt’s intra-Africa relations under Al-Sisi
Egypt’s relations with Africa have witnessed a remarkable shift since President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi took office in 2014. The country has been keen on strengthening its ties with African nations on multiple fronts, including political, economic, and security cooperation.
Al-Sisi has made a concerted effort to enhance Egypt’s political relations with African countries. He has visited several African nations, including Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Djibouti, Tanzania, Rwanda, Gabon and Chad, to strengthen political ties. The country has also hosted several African leaders, including the President of Chad, Idriss Deby, the President of Uganda, Yoweri Museveni, and the President of Tanzania, Samia Suluhu.
Egypt has also focused on strengthening economic cooperation with African countries. In 2016, Egypt hosted the Africa 2016 Business Forum, which aimed to promote intra-African trade and investment. Sisi has also launched several initiatives to boost economic ties with African nations, such as the ‘One Village One Product’ initiative, which seeks to promote small-scale industries in African countries.
Egypt has also been keen on enhancing security cooperation with African nations. The country has been actively involved in peacekeeping missions in African countries, including South Sudan and Somalia. In addition, Egypt has been working to combat terrorism in the region and has provided military and intelligence support to several African countries.
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