Afro-Arab Summit opens amid fresh optimism for growth prospects

Kuwait City, Kuwait (PANA) - African and Arab leaders kicked off two-days of talks in Kuwait City, Kuwait, Tuesday, hoping to hammer out a series of deals to boost trade, agriculture and joint investment projects.

PANA reports that the leaders from both sides at the third in a series dating back to the first Summit in 1977 pledged to avail natural resources, consolidate trade agreements and the sharing of skilled labour force across the region.

“We are required to devise the guidelines for our future work that shall be based on a concept of genuine partnership,” said Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmed Al-Jaber Al Sabah, the Amir of Kuwait.

Starting the meeting on a high note, Kuwait announced the setting aside of US$1 billion to be provided to African economies in soft loans to kick-start its partnership with Africa over the next five years.

The Gulf State also announced the creation of a US$1 million science prize in honour of Abdulrahman Al Sumait, the founder of Direct Aid, a Kuwaiti charity operating in Africa.

Gabonese President Ali Bongo, who co-chaired the Second Afro-Arab Summit, expressed regret that the Joint Action plan outlining steps to be taken in the fields of agriculture and investments have fallen behind schedule.

“Africa is attractive due to the natural resources and the high return on investment it offers. It is a win-win partnership to address unemployment and poverty,” the Gabonese leader said.

He called for more investments from Arab firms into Africa, and noted that efforts to set up a joint Africa-Arab Cultural Institute to promote the sharing of skills and cultural unity also required the input of private firms.

Also speaking, Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn welcomed the steps to bolster trade and investment between the two sides.

Hailemariam, the current AU Chairman, said since the first Summit in 1977, the economic fortunes of the African states had changed drastically.

"Africa, the basket case, has changed as a dynamic growth spot of the world and the Arabian economies have enjoyed three decades of strong growth with strong reserves," he said.

For her part, AU Commission Chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma hailed Africa as a growth and prosperity zone that can guarantee Arabian investors high returns.

Dlamini Zuma said the Arab states could diversify their investments into Africa's rail roads, the telecommunication and ICT sectors.
-0- PANA AO/SEG 19Nov2013

19 november 2013 11:37:24

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