Interview: “Egypt Reassures Its Belonging To Its African Roots”

Sherif Salah Eldin Elleithy, Ambassador of Egypt to Cameroon appraises relations between the two countries.

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How does Your Excellency assess the Egyptian-Cameroonian relations?

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The Egyptian-Cameroonian relations go back to a long time since the independence of Cameroon in 1960. Since then, these relations evolved to cover many fields of cooperation. The most strong ties are in the excellent political relations where the two countries are keen on enhancing these relations throughout increasing coordination between the leadership of the two brotherly countries. The Egyptian endeavor to strengthen the relations with Cameroon goes back to the 20th century where the Egyptian- Cameroonian Joint Committee started its first sessions aiming to cover all the fields of cooperation and explore more fields to cooperate in the future.

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In this regard, Cameroon hosted the Sixth Session of the Joint Committee on April 2010, during which, the two countries signed a number of agreements and memorandums of understanding in the fields of basic education, higher education, technical support, political consultations, trade,  investment, communication and energy. Egypt hosted the follow up committee on October 2013 to continue the coordination and increase the scope of cooperation between the two countries. Nowadays, Egypt and Cameroon are preparing for holding the 7th Session of the Joint Committee which will take place in Cairo with the goal of promoting bilateral relations and enhancing cooperation between the two countries in all fields.

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Egypt and Cameroon have many fields of mutual cooperation. The technical assistance offered by the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs through the Egyptian Agency of Partnership for Development (EAPD) is considered one of the main fields of cooperation between the two countries. The EAPD offers more than 40 training courses annually to the Cameroonian government in order to participate in capacity building of the Cameroonian personnel in many fields among them health, energy, agriculture, tourism, trade, audit and security. In addition to that, Egypt offers a number of scholarships offered by the Egyptian Ministry of Higher Education and Al AZHAR University for the Cameroonian students. Also, there is Al AZHAR mission that is serving in Cameroon counting 35 teachers in many Cameroonian regions spreading the moderate teachings of Islam to the children and youth in order to eradicate the extremism and terrorist ideology.

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The mutual visits of the officials of Egypt to Cameroon and the Cameroonian officials to Egypt are considered  strong signs of the willingness of the two countries to boost their relations. In this regard, I can mention the several visits of the Cameroonian officials to Egypt among them the visit of the representative of His Excellency the President of the Republic, Mr. Ayang Luc to the inauguration ceremony of the new Suez Canal Project, the participation of several Cameroonian officials headed by Minister Louis Paul Motaze at the Economic forum “Investment in Africa 2016” besides the visits of their Excellences Ministers of Culture, Water and Energy, Environment, Small and Medium Enterprises and Housing and Urban Development to Egypt. And on the other side the visits to Yaoundé of the president of The Association of African Sports Confederations (UCSA) General Ahmed Nasser, and the President of the African-Asian Writers Mr. Mohamed Salmawy, and recently the president of Egyptian Post Authority Mr. Essam El-Sagheer.

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Fighting terrorism

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On fighting terrorism, first of all, I would like to seize this opportunity to confirm Egypt's appreciation for His Excellency President Paul Biya's strategy in fighting terrorism and reiterate my country’s full encouragement and support to Cameroon in its fight against terrorism as well as assure my country's support and readiness to cooperate with Cameroon and provide its expertise in this field taking into consideration that Egypt condemns all acts of terrorism around the world. Egypt also appreciated the active policy of His Excellency the President of the Republic in maintaining peace in Central Africa region as well as hosting tens of thousands of refugees from Central African Republic and Nigeria. In this regard, Egypt provided humanitarian aids to the Cameroonian government in October 2015 included foodstuffs and tents to face the crisis of the refugees and displaced people in Cameroon.

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Egypt has great experiences in the fields of urban development, constructing socio-economic infrastructure including hotels, roads and social houses, how can Cameroon benefit from these expertise?

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Egypt has great experience in the field of urban housing and construction and infrastructure. The Cameroonian government had shown interest on benefiting from these experiences and the Egyptian government welcomed the cooperation between the two countries in this filed, that was the purpose of Minister of Housing and Urban Development's visit to Egypt where his Excellency met his Egyptian counterpart and signed a Memorandum of Understanding in this concern which enhances the bilateral relations between Egypt and Cameroon in this important field. In this regard, there is an Egyptian outstanding company, the Arab Contractors, working in the field of construction and infrastructure provides all the support and expertise to the Cameroonian brotherly government.  The Arab Contractors had successfully implemented number of infrastructure and road projects as well as it is responsible for the renovation of the Yaoundé Omnisports stadium within the Cameroonian government preparations for hosting 2016 Female African Cup of Nations. Furthermore, the Egyptian Company ELSEWEDY ELECTRIC had carried out number of projects in Cameroon in the field of electric cables and it is about executing three other projects in Cameroon during the coming period.

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Egypt has a big tourism sector with more than three million workers given the diversity of touristic places and resorts and monuments that Egypt has. This sector provides a percentage of 11% of the GDP of Egypt . In this Regard, Egypt and Cameroon signed a Memorandum of Understanding in the field of tourism on 2008. Knowing that the Egyptian Agency of Partnership for Development in collaboration with Egyptian Ministry of Tourism had offered earlier this year two training courses in the field of development of tourism to the African countries and Cameroon was among the participants in these training courses.

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What is Egypt’s policy towards the rest of Africa?

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Egypt has been always a part of the African continent as one of the main actors on the African arena. Besides the historical relations that Egypt has with its brotherly African countries, His Excellency Abdel Fattah Al-SISI, President of the Arab Republic of Egypt has launched a new strategy with the aim of increasing Egypt's relations with Africa in all fields and to make Africa one of the main dimensions of Egypt's foreign policy in order to restore our all time role at the heart of the African continent. This strategy gave a push to the Egyptian- Cameroonian relations for the past two years in the light of the common vision of the leaderships of the two countries towards the necessity to enhance these relations. In addition to the keenness of Egypt to increase the South-South cooperation. Egypt held the “Investment in Africa 2016” Economic Forum hosted by His Excellency President ABDEL FATTAH AL SISI  which aimed at strengthen the ties that combine the African countries and increasing the volume of trade between them as well as raising the flow foreign direct investment to the African countries.

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Egypt is keen on seizing its non-permanent membership at the United Nations Security Council to reassure its belonging to its African roots. Egypt is still throughout this membership playing its historical role defending all the cases related to the African countries especially with the Egyptian membership of the African Union Peace and Security Council which permits Egypt to play an significant role in coordination between the two councils towards the African continent cases and problems.

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