"We keep repeating it, the future of the world is in Africa", Senegal's Ambassador to Algeria
Prior to the 31st Arab League summit to be held from November 1 to 02, 2022 in Algiers, H.E.M Serigne DIEYE, Senegal's Ambassador to the People's Democratic Republic of Algeria, assessed the state of the economic cooperation between Africa and the Arab world.
What is the state of co-operation between Senegal and the Arab world?
Senegal has maintained privileged and multifaceted historical relations with all Arab countries since its independence in 1960. This has always been a fundamental option of Senegalese diplomacy. Senegal is one of the few African countries to have embassies in most Arab countries; conversely, all these Arab countries have diplomatic missions in Dakar (The capital of Senegal). In addition, the sharing of Islam has facilitated relations with the Arab world. Senegal also plays a key role in the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). Bilateral cooperation with each of these countries has been strengthened since His Excellency Macky Sall came to power in 2012.The President was also in Riyadh to participate in the Economic Forum on Investment that was held on October 25, 2022.
I must point out that several Arab financial institutions such as the Islamic Development Bank, BADEA, have been operating in Senegal for a long time by financing infrastructure, hospitals, schools to mention but a few. Currently, we have two major investments carried out by Arab countries, notably the port of Ndayane, one of the largest ports in Africa, financed by the United Arab Emirates and the ACWA Power project, financed by Saudi Arabia aimed at the construction of a Power Plant and a Seawater Desalination Plant.
Regarding Algeria, the country where I am accredited, relations began in the 1960s and have been strengthened over the years, in various fields: Higher Education (granting of scholarships), Energy, Medicines and Building Materials, etc. Algeria has contributed decisively to the training of several Senegalese executives in the technical and scientific fields.
Since President Abdelmadjid Tebboune took over, co-operation has further intensified with the commissioning of an Algiers-Dakar maritime line, the increase in Air Algérie flights. Businessmen of the two countries meet more frequently. Algerian companies are increasingly interested in the Senegalese market, the gateway to ECOWAS. Obviously, the embassy supports this dynamic by going to the field. The participation of His Excellency Mr. Macky Sall, President of the Republic of Senegal, as guest of honor of His Excellency Mr. Abdelmadjid Tebboune, President of the People's Democratic Republic of Algeria at the 31st summit of the Arab League clearly shows the mutual respect that exists between these two leaders, strongly committed to defending the African cause.
Today, we note a vigorous rise from the Arab world towards the rest of Africa. What do you think inspires this?
The vigorous rise of the Arab world in Africa is a good thing, for both Africans and Arabs. Both sides have an interest in strengthening their ties in win-win partnerships. The Arab world has Investment Funds while Africa, rich in raw materials considered as the "last frontier", is only waiting for investments to accelerate its development. In addition, the returns on investment are the highest in the world.
Today, all the powerful countries of the world are jostling at the gates of Africa. It is therefore urgent to strengthen this partnership, especially since at least seven member countries of the Arab League are African. Moreover, by inviting President Macky Sall, in his capacity as current President of the African Union, His Excellency Mr. Abdelmadjid Tebboune calls for a strengthening of ties between the Arab world and Africa. Funding from Arab countries has boosted development in Africa. But we keep repeating it: the future of the world is currently in Africa.
What do you have to tell those who think the rise is an expansion of the Arab World ideology in Africa?
In economy, the ideology that works is one that promotes development within the framework of a mutually beneficial, win-win partnership. President Macky Sall, in his capacity as Chairman of the African Union, constantly advocates to attract more foreign private investments in Africa. It is necessary to point out the opportunities generated by Islamic financing. At this level, it is possible to mobilize much more funding. President Macky Sall repeated it again at the Riyadh Forum: "All of Africa is under construction, everything or almost everything is still to be built, it is the last frontier of development". On the infrastructural level, we have the example of toll highways which can be profitable to all. There is agriculture and agribusiness. Africa has the potential to feed itself and help feed the world. The current crisis should be an opportunity to invest more in agriculture, energy, mining, housing, tourism and hotels, health, biotechnology (MADIBA/BioNtech) and ICT.
What are your expectations for the upcoming summit?
Senegal wishes resounding success to Algeria, which has done everything possible for the success of this summit, which takes place in post COVID-19 era. A united Arab world, speaking with one voice, is a factor of stability for the whole world and this will allow it to have more influence in the advent of the new world order that President Macky Sall is calling for.
Interviewed by Gisèle NNEMI NGA, Irene GAOUDA & Jenipher ASIIMWE,