Kuwait City — - Third Arab-African Summit, Kuwait City, November 19-20, 2013
Kuwait has announced it will give USD1 billion to African countries in the next five years, as dozens of heads of state meet in the country today (November 19) for the third Arab-African summit.
His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah said his country's commitment to forging genuine partnership between Arab countries and Africa.
His Highness said: "I directed officials of the Fund [the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development] to extend soft loans to African countries in the amount of USD 1 billion over the next five years, not to mention investments by a number of Kuwaiti corporations in various sectors."
The Amir also announced the creation of an annual prize worth USD one million in the name of late philanthropist Dr Abdulrahman Al-Sumait, focusing on development research in Africa.
The announcements came amid discussion to create the world's newest free trade zone - between the Middle East and Africa - which would fuel economic development through lowering barriers to international business.
The zone is being proposed by Kuwait at the two-day conference which began in Kuwait City today, hosted by the Amir.
The summit is also expected to hear Kuwait call for other Arab countries to follow its lead in investing in African countries and the development of the African private sector, as well as for an empowering of the role that women play in driving effective development.
Kuwait is already the world's most generous country in terms of investment in foreign development, with total development aid, including loans, grants and technical assistance, standing at 1.3% of gross domestic product.
Since its inception in 1961, the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development (KFAED), or Kuwait Fund, has contributed over US$6.4 billion to projects in 48 of the 54 African states.
The summit will be attended by around 52 Arab and African presidents and heads of state, including the first participation of representatives from both Sudan and South Sudan.
It is the first to take place outside Africa, after the inaugural summit in Cairo, Egypt, in 1977 and the second in Sirte, Libya, in 2010.
Other discussions at the event will include calls from Kuwait for: greater legislation and global treaties to drive food security and peace; better multi-lateral cooperation between Arab and African countries to bring the peace and political security required for development; and increased infrastructure development as the foundation for greater economic integration.
The summit is taking place on 19-20 November in Kuwait City.