10:16 | 24/02/2016 Cooperation
As African countries grapple with the challenge of bilateral trade within the continent, Egypt’s president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi last Saturday opened the 2016 African Economic Summit.
Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi delivers a speech during the Africa 2016 forum in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh (Mohamed el-Shahed, AFP)
The event was attended by African leaders and businessmen with the aim to boost trade and investment across the continent.
More than 1,200 delegates including some heads of state attended the event to negotiate business agreement that would attract private sector investments in Africa.
Organizers said the conference plans to build on a 26 nations free trade pact signed last year to create a common market for the continent.
“The forum was aimed at pushing forward trade and investment in our continent to strengthen Africa’s place in the world economy,” Sisi said.
Analysts said despite growth, African economies still account for about only two percent of global trade.
Organizers are seeking to turn the spotlight on Egypt as its economy remains sluggish after years of political turmoil following the ouster of longtime president Hosni Mubarak in 2011.
Egypt’s economy depends heavily on tourism but the economy has suffered set backs in recent times when a Russian airliner crashed minutes after taking off in October last year.
“Africa 2016 forum is expected to position Egypt as a gateway for foreign investments into African markets,” member of the organising committee, Omar Ben Yedder told AFP.
The conference was organized by Egypt and the African Union, in partnership with the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, COMESA./.