The 4th Afro-Arab Summit took placed in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea on Wednesday this week (November 23) this week under the theme: “Together for Sustainable Development and Economic Cooperation”. The Summit was preceded by the meeting of the Afro-Arab Joint Council of Ministers of Foreign on Monday, in a joint opening session with Afro-Arab Ministers of Economy, Trade and Finance. The one-day Joint Council Meeting considered the Recommendations of the Afro-Arab Senior Officials Meeting, held last week, the Progress Report on the Implementation of the Initiatives of the Emir of Kuwait on Investment and Development announced during the 3rd Afro-Arab Summit, the Report of the 3rd Afro-Arab Ministerial Meeting on Agricultural Development and Food Security, Recommendations of the Afro-Arab Economic Forum, held in Malabo last week on 18 November 2016, and the outcome of the Afro-Arab Meeting of Ministers of Economy, Finance and Trade. The Ministers also the draft outcome documents of the 4th Afro-Arab Summit, including the Malabo Declaration, the Declaration on Palestine, and the resolutions and draft Agenda of the 4th Afro-Arab Summit.
Ethiopia’s Foreign Minister, Dr. Workneh Gebeyehu, spoke to the Joint Council of Ministers of the Fourth Afro-Arab Summit on Monday, thanking the AU Commission Chairperson, Dr. Dlamini Zuma, and the Secretary General of the League of Arab States, Ahmed Aboul Gheit, for their statements on the progress made in implementation of the decisions of the 3rd Afro-Arab Summit held in Kuwait in November 2013 when Ethiopia served as co-chair of the Summit. He noted that this had meant Ethiopia had been involved in implementation of the various resolutions of the Summit and in the preparation of the 4th Summit. He said the Senior Officials of the Coordination Committee of the Afro-Arab Partnership had done a commendable job, through the series of meetings in Cairo and Malabo, to advance implementation of the Partnership’s decisions and prepare for the Fourth Afro-Arab Summit. In addition the ministerial level of the Coordination Committee had also met annually for three consecutive years, in New York on the margins of the UN General Assembly to follow-up implementation of the Summit’s decisions.
Dr. Workneh underlined the great potential of the Afro-Arab Partnership to benefit the people of the two regions linked as they are by history, language, culture and geographic proximity. He commended the choice of the theme of the fourth Summit: “Together for Sustainable Development and Economic Cooperation”. This was, he said, a highly pertinent theme for both regions. Given the right decisions at the Summit, this would allow both parties to make use of the partnership’s immense potential. It also fitted in very well with the outcome of the Kuwait Summit and would enable the partnership to continue to emphasize the important areas of economic and infrastructural development, agricultural cooperation, energy, trade and investment.
Dr. Workneh also welcomed the other meetings taking place during the Summit including the Afro-Arab Economic Forum and the joint Meeting of Ministers of Finance, Economy and Trade. These, he said, were exactly the type of consultations that can help members of the partnership to find ways and means of addressing development challenges. They would also help inform the drawing up of the Joint Action Plan and enhance its implementation, taking into account the massive potential of the partnership. Dr. Workneh stressed that there was no doubt that Africa and the Arab world possessed comparative advantages that could be utilized for advancing the partnership. In recent years, he pointed out, Africa had increasingly become one of the most attractive regions for investment. Its markets were sought after by businesses throughout the world. It had abundant agricultural resources, including significant amounts of arable land that could be utilized to address the food security challenge that both regions faced. Equally, Arab states had substantial resources available for investment that could be channeled into agriculture, agro-processing, manufacturing, energy and other areas in Africa. This would benefit both sides.
Dr. Workneh underlined the importance of redoubling efforts to achieve peace and security in Africa as well as the Arab world. There was continued prevalence of conflict in parts of both regions. Indeed, as agreed in the Joint Partnership Strategy, it was important to increase efforts in the fight against terrorism, trans-border crime, human and drug trafficking, illegal trade in arms and other threats to regional and international peace and security.
In his address, Dr. Workneh also thanked Sheikh Sabah Al Khalid Al Sabah, First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Kuwait for his briefing on the implementation of the three initiatives of the Emir of Kuwait, in support of the development of African nations. These initiatives, he noted, had started to benefit the people in many African countries and they provided a practical demonstration of the kind of development-oriented cooperation that had a significant impact on poverty reduction and changing the livelihood of people in Africa. He said he would like to encourage the promotion of other similar development-centered initiatives that could play a positive role in improving the lives of people.