Cairo — President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi extended an official invitation to Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir to attend the upcoming Africa Investment Forum scheduled to take place in Sharm el-Sheikh in February.
Egypt will host the Africa Investment Forum on Feb. 20, with the participation of 21 African leaders and heads of regional and economic blocs, in addition to 96 ministers responsible for different sectors across the continent.
Several Egyptian companies are expected to visit Sudan in the upcoming period in order to discuss investment opportunities, the Sudanese foreign ministry spokesperson told state-run news agency MENA on Sunday.
The forthcoming forum is the first of its kind, adopting a clearly African agenda, and aiming to achieve economic integration in the African continent in preparation for the establishment of an African Free Trade Area that will be negotiated starting 2017.
In June 2015, African leaders signed an initial agreement in Egypt aiming to establish a free trade zone stretching from Cairo to Cape Town. The agreement requires ratification by national parliaments.
The Tripartite Free Trade Area (TFTA) includes 25 African countries, uniting three existing trade blocs in Africa, which are the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the Common Market for Eastern and Southern African (COMESA) and the East African Community (EAC).
The alliance would bring together more than 60 per cent of the continent's gross domestic product, valued at $1.2 trillion, Sisi said on the last day of a week-long conference in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, Reuters reported.
The African Development Bank has recommended that the focus be on developing Africa's infrastructure, given the poor state of roads, railways and airlines that have posed a challenge to intra-African trade.