African countries have been working over the last decades to form a ‘united front’ through the formation of a strong African Union (AU), but major policy issues among countries continue to keep the dream at a peripheral level – with the AU involved in holding regular meetings and making interventions in times of crisis in some of the member countries.
The AU is yet to be successful in bringing all African countries under one umbrella with a common currency and monetary policy, and reducing travel restrictions from one country to another.
The dream of one Africa started decades ago when the then Organization of African Unity (OAU) was founded on May 25, 1963 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. But following the end of tenures in power of the main architects, the dream nearly collapsed until the organization was transformed into the AU in the mid-1990s under the leadership of former Libyan leader Muammar Al-Gaddafi.
The continent is still far from having an AU comparable to that of the United States of America (USA) with one Federal Government, budget and individual governors for various states.
Some countries with bigger economies and power have been working to bring African countries together – the likes of Libya under the late Gaddafi, South Africa, Nigeria, Ghana, Ethiopia, Kenya and other countries among the big players on the continent.
Nigeria has been mainly successful in having a firm grip in the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), which is made of 15 West African countries south of the Sahara, giving the country some major voice on the continent.
New melting point
In recent years, the Arab Republic of Egypt has increased its engagement with African countries serving as the new melting point where professionals from many African countries meet to undergo capacity building and other forms of training programs.
Military personnel from various African countries including Ghana, Zambia, Uganda, Mali, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Togo, and many others have all received some form of training from the Egyptian Armed Forces, the largest on the continent, within the last two years.
Professionals from other areas including health, energy, media and others also troop into Egypt on a regular basis to receive training and practical capacity building.
Through the Egyptian Agency of Partnership for Development (EAPD), Egypt has over the last two years increased its collaboration with other African countries.
In his speech delivered at the 23rd summit of the AU in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, President Adbul Fattah Al-Sisi announced the re-launch of the EAPD.
The agency focuses largely on the support of major development projects in Africa and other developing states by focusing on key areas of development in which Egypt has great experience, such as communication, transport, information technology, health services, agriculture and energy.
The current head of the EADP Ambassador Hazem Fahmy says the agency is looking to build a strong collaboration among African countries.
He spoke to journalists and media practitioners from 22 African countries during a training course on “the Future of the Media in Africa,” held from May 4 to 24 in Cairo, Egypt.
Ambassador Fahmy told the journalists Egypt is seeking to play an essential role in bringing African countries closer and sharing experience through interactions.
According to him, the EADP is receiving huge support from the government of Egypt to spearhead the strengthening of collaborations with sisterly African countries.
“We are happy to always invite our African sisters and brothers here from across the continent to come and share their experiences with us and also learn new things from us,” said Ambassador Fahmy.
With the level of support from the Egyptian government, the collaboration between Egypt and other African countries will be further improved in the coming years, Ambassador Fahmy said
Internal struggles shifted policy
Egypt took a downward trend in terms of its engagement with the rest of Africa, playing a low profile role in the activities of the AU over the last decade, but the country’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sameh Shoukry believes Egypt had been encountering internal struggles, which might have led to its low key role in Africa.
“We have had our own internal struggles over the years which might have shifted our attention from cementing our relationship with our sisterly African countries, but we are looking to rebuild and make the relationship even stronger,” said Minister Shoukry.
He said in recent years Egypt has increased its support to African countries through capacity-building to armies and other professionals.
Egypt, located in North Africa, has a rich history that is very attractive to the world. Known as the birth place of modern civilization, the country has some of the known Biblical and historical artifacts and physical features including the River Nile, Red Sea, the old and new Suez Canal and one of the wonders of the world – the Pyramids, built about 6,000 years ago, but which are still intact today.
The northern country is ideally situated as a transcontinental hub – located in Africa, but also sharing borders with the Middle East hence Asia.
Egypt is a member of the Arab League, an organization of Arabic speaking countries, and also a ‘big player’ in the affairs of the Middle East (ME), as a result of which the country is making tremendous development strides.