Your Excellencies, Heads of State and Government of Africa
Ladies and gentlemen, at the beginning of my speech, I am pleased to welcome you all to the second session of the Aswan Forum for Sustainable Peace and Development, that interactive African platform that we launched together during Egypt's presidency of the African Union in 2019 to advance an ambitious agenda that works to strengthen the relationship between the stability of the state of peace and security, to achieve sustainable development in our continent and to enhance cooperation between our countries and with our partners .
The exceptional circumstances imposed by the "Corona" pandemic prevented us from returning to our face-to-face meeting in the city of "Aswan" last year. However, Egypt was keen to hold the second session of the forum virtually to build on the momentum generated by the first session and the successes it achieved and based on its belief that the present time is ideal for us to discuss together the huge challenges facing our Continent to discuss the best ways and mechanisms to support our joint efforts to recover from the pandemic and to build better to cross with our Continent from that crisis to a shore of safety .
We have demonstrated over the past year that the challenges posed by the pandemic and its consequences will not deter us from advancing our African agenda, but rather increase our determination to move forward in implementing our plans and building back better in order to achieve the goals of the AU Agenda 2063 .
Perhaps the activation of the Continental Free Trade Agreement at the beginning of this year is a good example of the success of our collective efforts .
I reiterate Egypt's full support for it and the need to expedite the implementation of its dues, complete the stages of negotiation, and activate its policies .
Infrastructure projects are also considered a basic pillar of development and recovery efforts in Africa. So now we need ambitious projects such as cross-border transport, roads and electrical connection projects to enhance economic integration and regional integration, as well as creating an environment conducive to achieving higher levels of growth and providing job opportunities in a way that contributes to overcoming the repercussions of the economic crisis of the pandemic. Egypt's pioneering experience in infrastructure projects is an example that we are happy to share with our brothers .
I would also like to highlight the importance of information technology in dealing with the repercussions of the pandemic and its pivotal role in all aspects of our lives during this period, which confirms the need to increase investments in the field of digital transformation in our Continent to maximize the benefit from the opportunities provided by this technology in various fields .
Also, the comprehensive recovery from the pandemic requires the development of sustainable development policies that include the economic, social and environmental dimensions, as the pandemic has demonstrated the intertwining and intertwining of risks and challenges facing our societies and countries, and I am confident that the forum discussions will provide an appropriate opportunity to exchange experiences and opinions on how to develop these policies .
In addition to the heavy burdens that befell our countries as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic, Africa continues to suffer from the dangers of armed conflicts and civil wars that threaten the sustainability of security on the continent, as the arrows of terrorism are trying to undermine the stability of our peoples as well as the transnational phenomena they bring such as smuggling and spread weapons, the increase in organized crime, human trafficking, illegal immigration and forced displacement .
The pandemic has contributed to the enormous economic and social repercussions it has caused in exacerbating these dangers, which requires uniting efforts to support African frameworks and mechanisms for preventing and settling conflicts and strengthening the capacities of the countries of the continent to deal with existing threats and risks, as well as the importance of focusing on the advancement of the role of women in the peace and security agenda and investment in the application of a preventive approach to crises and work to strengthen the relationship between actors in the areas of peace, security and development, in a way that contributes to addressing the root causes of conflicts . .
In this context, I would like to emphasize the importance of choosing "arts, culture and heritage" as the theme of the African Union for the year 2021, as it is the soft power in the rapprochement of peoples in a way that helps to deal with challenges with an enlightened thought that advances the culture and civilization of our African countries and enhances peace, security and development in our great continent .
In addition, achieving sustainable peace requires immunization of post-conflict countries against setbacks by building the resilience capacity of their institutions and enabling them to perform their assigned tasks and advancing development .
From this standpoint, we affirm our commitment to assume our responsibility in leading the file of post-conflict reconstruction and development by activating the African Union Center on this issue on the land of Egypt to set development plans and programs in coordination with each concerned country according to its national situations and priorities and to discuss the best mechanisms and ways to implement them on the ground. Indeed, Egypt's presidency of the United Nations Peacebuilding Commission opens the door to strengthening cooperation between the African Union and the United Nations in this field .
Your Excellencies, Your Excellencies, Heads of State and Government of Africa
In these exceptional circumstances that our world is witnessing today in light of the outbreak of the "Corona" pandemic, Egypt affirms that international solidarity is an urgent matter until humanity comes out of this crisis in peace and security. Despite our regional and international efforts to confront the pandemic, the current stage has brought new challenges, foremost of which is the provision of the vaccine. What is necessary for our peoples, as it is important for me is to emphasize on this occasion the African demand that it be provided in a more equitable and just way to meet the demands of the peoples of our Continent .
I conclude my speech with the hope of an actual meeting soon after we have closed the epidemic page, allowing the next session of the forum to be held face to face in "Aswan", the land of civilization and history .