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Jeddah - Yasmine El Tohamy - Leaders thank Kingdom for hosting first Saudi-African Summit to boost ties and promote stability
RIYADH: Leaders from more than 50 countries gathered in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, on Friday for the first Saudi-African Summit.
The one-day event aimed to further develop relations and cooperation between the Kingdom and nations in Africa, and promote strategic partnerships.
Jasem Albudaiwi, secretary-general of the Gulf Cooperation Council, said the summit takes place during a time of serious developments in the region. This was also highlighted by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman during his opening speech to the event, in which he referred to the desire of the Kingdom and African countries to enhance cooperation in a way that can contribute to regional and international security and peace.
Condemning Israel’s military offensive and targeting of civilians in Gaza and the continuing violations of international humanitarian law by Israeli forces, the crown prince stressed the need to end the war and the forced displacement of Palestinians, and create the conditions required for stability and peace.
More than 11,000 Palestinians, nearly half of them children, have been killed by Israeli assaults in the Gaza Strip, according to the Gazan health ministry, since Hamas launched its surprise attack on Israel on Oct. 7.
Gen. Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan, chair of the Sudanese Sovereignty Council, said that Saudi Arabia always seeks to establish strategic partnerships with other countries, particularly African states, to enhance investment opportunities and improve political and economic stability.
Sudan will remain supportive of the Saudi-African partnership, he added, as he expressed gratitude for the Kingdom’s continuing concern for Sudan’s security, stability and unity.
The president of the Libyan Presidential Council, Mohammed Al-Menfi, said the Saudi-African Summit would help to build bridges of economic cooperation, “given the Kingdom’s immense capabilities and prestigious status.”
Alassane Ouattara, the president of Ivory Coast, said the summit reflected the Kingdom’s solid commitment to supporting the development of African countries. He also called for a cease-fire in Gaza and lasting peace between the Israelis and Palestinians based on a two-state solution.
Somalia’s President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud said his country works with Saudi Arabia to secure opportunities that can boost stability and prosperity. He thanked the Kingdom for supporting economic reforms and political stability in Somalia, to help tackle numerous challenges the country faces, including drought, and enhance counterterrorism efforts. He also addressed the conflict in Gaza, calling for an immediate cease-fire and the delivery of humanitarian aid to those in need.
Ismail Omar Guelleh, the president of Djibouti, praised the Kingdom for taking the initiative to host the summit, which he said reflects Saudi Arabia’s prominent position in the region and the international community, its political weight, and its great economic influence.
It represents a role model for efforts to keep pace with development initiatives on the African continent, he added, and plays a pivotal role in promoting development in the Horn of Africa and the Red Sea Basin.
Azali Assoumani, president of the Comoros, said: “The world is undergoing many important conflicts, with thousands losing their lives and many societies living in fear and poverty. Our country’s economy faces a food crisis, exacerbated by the COVID-19 virus.”
He highlighted the importance of working with intermediaries to help guarantee security and restore hope, and said the Kingdom and African countries have the potential to create an environment in which Africa and its people can benefit from enhanced economic opportunities that provide technological resources and strengthen partnerships.
Tanzania’s President Samia Suluhu Hassan praised Saudi Arabia’s efforts to establish strong partnerships with nations on the African continent, build joint economic initiatives, and harness the potential of the human resources on both sides. She emphasized the importance of investing in human capital, especially youth, as a road map for development and prosperity.
Mohamed Ould Ghazouani, the president of Mauritania, said the summit will help to promote greater cooperation. It will also help to unify African and Arab positions in solidarity with the Palestinian people, who are being subjected to inhuman crimes including the killing of children and women, he added.
The Kingdom’s religious status, geostrategic location, international influence, and its leading role in supporting sustainable development mean that it is an important partner, especially for African countries, Ghazouani said.
He also commended Saudi Arabia for its leading role in developing major projects and initiatives such as the Middle East Green Initiative, and affirmed his country’s support for the Kingdom to host Expo 2030.
Niger’s prime minister, Ali Lamine Zeine, underlined the importance of enhanced economic cooperation with the Kingdom and the creation of new opportunities for Saudi investors in his country. He highlighted the difficulties his country faces and the relentless efforts being made to address them, enable investment in natural resources, improve relations with neighboring countries, and create an ideal economic zone for attracting investors.
William Ruto, Kenya’s president, thanked the Kingdom for its investments in Africa and called on Saudi economic and commercial authorities to support African institutions and take advantage of the continent’s capabilities to enhance cooperation.
The president of Guinea-Bissau, Umaro Sissoco Embalo, confirmed his country’s desire to support relations between Saudi Arabia and African countries. He thanked the Kingdom for its investments in, and support for, his country, and said he appreciates the significant role Saudi Arabia plays in combating poverty in Africa, along with its help in seeking solutions to current international conflicts.
Emmerson Mnangagwa, the president of Zimbabwe, underlined the significance of the summit as the first gathering of its kind to address challenges and work to improve economic balance, and pointed out that the Kingdom is a valuable partner for efforts to achieve stability and peace on the African continent.
He also expressed his concern over the situation in Gaza, including the violations of international humanitarian law and the rights of Palestinians, and called for the revival of a political process to bring about permanent peace in the region.
Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame said Saudi Arabia and African countries share geographic proximity and rapidly growing relationships, and the goals of the summit were to address economic challenges, facilitate trade and boost investment.
Wavel Ramkalawan, the president of the Seychelles, described the summit as an opportunity to address important issues. He said the Kingdom is a strong partner on which Africa can rely to transfer knowledge of ambitious industries that can help to confront the challenges of climate change, and work with to explore other areas of cooperation, as represented by the African Continental Free Trade Agreement to provide unique opportunities to enhance trade, promote and support economic growth and investment.
Guinea’s president, Mamady Doumbouya, stressed the importance of international relationships as the world faces global difficulties and challenges, including food and humanitarian crises, and the threats posed by terrorism and climate change.
Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the president of Nigeria, hailed the bonds that have helped enhance relations between the Horn of Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, and underlined his country’s commitment to attracting business and investments by implementing policies, protecting rights, and strengthening ties with the Kingdom as a strategic partner for regional growth.
He also expressed concern about the current situation in Gaza, praised the Kingdom’s commitment to protecting the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people, and stated Nigeria’s support for a peaceful solution to the conflict.
The president of the Central African Republic, Faustin-Archange Touadera, emphasized the importance of efforts to enhance cooperation, investment and development opportunities between Saudi Arabia and African nations, along with investment in national resources and preserving the environment.
Lazarus Chakwera, the president of Malawi, said the Kingdom is a strategic partner for efforts to create exceptional and diverse agendas for investment financing in African nations that aspire to achieve good financial results and strong economic returns from their partnerships with Saudi Arabia.
Malawi has enormous potential in mining, energy and other fields, he added, with a wealth of human resources at its disposal.
Zambia’s President Hakainde Hichilema said his country continues to seek ties that can help boost the benefits that come from increased wealth, individually or collectively, to achieve prosperity for the entire world.
“Africa has potential for future global energy supplies, green energy and the green economy,” he added, as he praised the Kingdom’s great work in developing green cities and building relations that benefit African countries.
Evariste Ndayishimiye, the president of Burundi, said the summit presents an opportunity to enhance relations between his country and not only Saudi Arabia, but the African continent, by forming fruitful partnerships through the Saudi Fund for Development, especially in the fields of infrastructure, housing, energy, mining, and tourism, among others.
Filipe Nyusi, Mozambique’s president, said his country is rich in natural resources and seeks to improve its infrastructure to help achieve development and growth, including investments in the fields of energy, health and education. The nation is confident that its partnership with the Kingdom will have positive and fruitful results for both sides, he added.
Adama Barrow, president of The Gambia, said: “The Saudi-African Summit confirms the commitment to developing African political and economic ambitions.”
It will produce results that can help ensure the Kingdom and African nations enjoy the benefits of commercial investments and economic sustainability, he added. He also noted that his country offers investment potential in the field of tourism, and development of the digital economy is among its priorities in efforts to achieve the objectives of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, and to attract more direct investments.
The chair of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki, said this inaugural summit was needed to help develop effective plans to advance and expand relations at a steady, systematic pace.
“We should have consultations to take joint actions and decisions, and the partnerships between the African continent and the Kingdom should be based on a specific agenda for the next decades,” he added.
Faki also addressed the Palestinian issue, saying: “We are required to develop a very urgent practical plan that embodies the stance of Africa, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and the Arab world, guaranteeing the rights of the Palestinian people to freedom, dignity, independence, security and stability, for all countries and peoples of the region.”
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