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Jeddah - Yasmine El Tohamy - Saudi Arabia is set to sign SR2 billion ($533 million) worth of agreements with African countries, the Kingdom’s finance minister has announced.
Speaking during the Saudi-Arab-African Economic Conference in Riyadh, Mohammed Al-Jadaan said the deals would be reached through the Kingdom’s Fund for Development.
The minister said the agreements would be struck with a “multitude” of countries and entities on the continent.
“Our partnership with African countries is strong and ever growing. In energy, education and agriculture amongst many others, the Kingdom considers Africa a strong investment destination and partner,” he added.
Al-Jadaan also called for the creation of an additional seat for Africa on the Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund to strengthen the voice of the continent in global forums.
The event, which has brought together representatives from the financial, trade, and government sectors to discuss improving ties between Saudi Arabia and Africa, was also told that the Kingdom’s Public Investment Fund is eyeing up deals in the continent.
“PIF is looking at Africa with great interest and I believe they will be in due course making some game-changing announcements about their intent to invest in Africa,” said Saudi Minister of Investment Khalid Al-Falih.
He added that Ma’aden and PIF’s joint venture – announced in January – is going to “invest in the critical minerals in Africa.”
Al-Falih said: “There is already $75 billion of Saudi investment deployed in Africa. It’s a good number, but I think we’re only scratching the surface given the great potential that we've talked about today.”
A number of memorandums of understanding were signed, including with:
- Nigeria in the oil and gas sector.
- Senegal, Ethiopia, and Chad respectively for cooperation in the field of energy.
- Egypt to establish “high level financial dialogue.”
- Gambia on the avoidance of double taxation of income and prevention of tax evasions.
- Rwanda to implement the oil sustainability program initiatives.
- Côte d'Ivoire’s Ministry of Tourism and Leisure on greater cooperation.
Rwanda’s Minister of Public Investment and Resource Mobilization Jeanine Munyeshuli suggested that more deals are on the horizon.
“We are happy with this agreement, and are going to be signing more to deepen our relationship and have long lasting relationships. For me, it was a very good one,” she said.
The Saudi Fund for Development reached developmental loan agreements with the following countries:
- Guinea, for a mother and child referral hospital – SR281.25 million.
- Malawi, for the construction and rehabilitation of the Manchogi – Makanjira road – SR75 million.
- Burkina Faso, for the Manga Regional Hospital – SR63.75 million.
- Burundi, for the rehabilitation of King Khalid University Hospital in Bujumbura – SR187.5 million.
- Sierra Leone, for the construction and equipment of Riyadh Referral Hospital – SR187.5 million.
- Tanzania, for the Benako to Kyaka transmission line – SR28.7 million.
- Niger, for the construction of secondary schools for girls in several regions – SR100 million.
- Mozambique, for the rehabilitation and upgrade of two sections of the national road – SR187.5 million.
- Benin, for a higher college for teacher preparation and a scientific secondary school – SR150 million.
- Cabo Verde, for the rehabilitation of watersheds in the islands of Santiago, Santo Antao, and Boavista – SR63.75 million.
Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Energy Abdulaziz bin Salman used his address to the conference to highlight how the continent needs more support to tackle global warming concerns.
“We have asked many of our colleagues in Africa if they have received any of the climate fund. I have yet to hear any who have,” he said.
Strengthening industrial, mining and commercial partnerships is one of the key areas of discussion at the conference, along with sustainable energy, food security, and investing in business development, infrastructure and human capital.
Trade between the Kingdom and Africa has witnessed remarkable growth during the past five years, according to the Saudi Press Agency, with non-oil exports to the continent increasing at an annual growth rate of 5.96 percent from 2018 to 2022, reaching SR31.94 billion.
Industrial and mining activities lead Saudi non-oil exports to Africa, with the chemicals and polymers sectors top, followed by packaging, building materials, and food products.
Imports from Africa came from a number of sectors, including precious metals and jewelry.
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