H E Sheikh Sabah Al Khaled Al Hamad Al Sabah
Kuwait has realized early on the full capability of the African continent, its rich resources and this is why we have directed development towards Africa, disclosed Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister H E Sheikh Sabah Khaled Al-Hamad Al-Sabah after the successful conclusion of the 3rd Afro-Arab summit in Kuwait last week.
“Kuwait is committed to bringing the Africa-Arab summit’s theme, ‘Partners in Development and Investment’ into reality,” said the Foreign Minister, adding “the participation in the recent African-Arab summit, hosted here was “unprecedented.”
“Kuwait shares many political, economic and cultural aspects, along with a strategic location in the centre of the world,” he added. “When this theme is carried out, only then can we achieve sustainable development for the nations of the two regions,” he said, adding “we hope the summit achieves the proper utilization of capabilities available to both regions.”
Both issues of development and investment contain many sub-issues, namely stability and security, and both sides have agreed to discuss these matters, he revealed.
Sheikh Sabah Al Khaled also pointed out that the Kuwait Declaration adopted by the summit endorsed African and Arab cooperation and hence they were able to reach a common action plan in the declaration.
“We have a long history of trade with Africa, long before even the oil boom, and we shall continue to work towards cooperation,” he stated. “We believe in equal partnership, we are partners to close and far away neighbors, in development and investment, in decent living standards and human dignity.”
“In light of the commitment made by H H the Amir, an initiative of USD 2 billion, out of which 1 billion in soft loans and 1 billion for investment and guarantees, will be made available over a 5 year period to the African continent,” H E Sheikh Sabah Khaled Al Sabah disclosed.
The focus of the projects will be on infrastructure to further develop activities and to have a strategic partnership with Africa. A yearly award of KD 1 million under the supervision of Kuwait Institute of Scientific Research has also been instituted. Kuwait is represented diplomatically in many of the nations of Africa, along with development representation through its Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development (KFAED), he said.
The minister also pointed to “challenges all nations, not only in Africa and the Arab world, are faced with,” adding that the talks would provide a solid ground on which the sides could cooperate. Although some nations in Africa are affected by poverty and famine, there are matters that can be utilized like the continent’s geographic location, its cultural diversity and huge natural and human resources, he added.
Noting on the investments of China, Japan and India in the continent, he said these opportunities are promising. Kuwait has good relations with most African nations through the development efforts carried out by the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development, he said. KFAED had signed loan and grant agreements with a number of African countries during the African-Arab Economic Forum, he explained. These deals were worth a total of around KD 28.5 million (USD 110 million) and were signed on the sidelines of the summit’s supplementary event.
In response to a question on whether or not there was a chance to form a joint Arab-African market, the minister said that the issue was discussed at the African-Arab Economic Forum held on the sidelines of the Summit.
Experts and officials discussed obstacles on the trade front between the regions, along with the components for the success of this proposal, he added. On the issue of migration, he said that the “important” matter was discussed by senior officials in a recent meeting and will also be discussed at a meeting of foreign ministers.
Asked why political issues are not among the issues on the talks’ agenda, he said that this was not the place for these kinds of discussions. “Political issues are on the minds of the whole world, including our Arab and African friends, but there are certain venues to discuss and focus on this,” he said.
Palestinian affairs, he said were “paramount,” while the bloodshed in Syria “hurts us all,” but “these are issues that are discussed by the Arab League, the African Union, the Non-Aligned Movement, the Organization of the Islamic Conference and the United Nations,” he added.
Kuwait-based charity, Direct Aid, will be hosting a conference attended by some 100 humanitarian workers in Africa, he said, adding that food security is an important issue. On the attendance of senior officials, he said invitations had been sent to Russian president Vladimir Putin, chair of the G20 Summit, the head of the G8, head of the Non-Aligned Movement and nations that have interests in Africa, like China, Japan and India.
The summit will also work to revise the work of financial institutions in Africa, along with obstacles and difficulties they are faced with.
In conclusion, he said “I would like to extend my heartfelt thanks to the Arab and African countries for their participation in making the event a success and wish the two regions work closely together for a more prosperous and brighter future which may lead to more peace and prosperity around the world.
- Staff Report