Erastus Mwencha, Deputy Chairperson of the African Union Commission
Kuwait City, Kuwait – African and Arab leaders rose from a two-day Summit on boosting economic cooperation Wednesday, with a declaration to pump more funds into Arabian financial institutions to promote Africa’s development, fight hunger and food shortages in both regions.
They agreed to increase the capitalization of the Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa (BADEA) by half, to make more funds available to grow more food and spur investments within Africa.
The Third Afro-Arab Summit in Kuwait followed a similar one in 2010 in Libya, where the need to implement a 2011-2016 development plan was discussed and agreed upon, but its implementation fell behind schedule as a result of the chaos that struck the North African region, toppling leaders in Libya, Tunisia and Egypt.
“This has been a very successful meeting,” said Erastus Mwencha, the Deputy Chairperson of the African Union Commission. “It has given a boost to the African and Arab relations.”
The decision to bolster funding to Africa through BADEA, which funds projects in 43 African countries that all non-members of the Arab League, would put a massive US$ 4.2 billion in the hands of the African states.
It was understood that a total of 800 major projects had been identified in Africa, which require a US$ 700 billion package to complete.
Both sides emphasised the need to support the work of the Arab Fund for Technical Assistance to African Countries (AFTAAC) to continue providing support in agriculture and food security.
“What was more significant was the decision to create a monitoring mechanism and a secretariat to ensure the proper implementation of this cooperation,” Mwencha added.
The additional financing to Africa would ensure the Arab Bank continues to invest in major agricultural projects. The Bank’s capital base stood at US$ 2.8 billion in 2009.
Leaders from both sides emphasized the need to have investments that emphasise financial sustainability. The investments would target the youth.
“The momentum for joint investments has been created,” said Mwencha. “We are bound by our culture.”
The two regions agreed to increase investments and the volume of trade between them through the joint investment in the key economic sectors of information, technology and telecommunications, transport and energy.
Africa, a region which has suffered from a drop in financial aid over the past few years, managed to reignite an economic partnership that was set to guarantee an additional US$ 2.4 billion in new aid.
The leaders directed the AUC and the Arab League secretariats to work jointly with development banks in both regions to implement projects and programme to boost the new-found cooperation.