Saudi African Summit Focuses on Economic Development Potential

The First Saudi-African Summit was held on Nov. 10 in Riyad, Saudi Arabia, with the principle aim of mapping out a path for cooperation in ensuring the economic development of the African continent. The event is an example of the new paradigm of cooperation taking hold in the Global South, led by the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa). The Summit’s host, Saudi Arabia, has been offered membership in the group, to take effect in January, along with Egypt and Ethiopia, which also participated in the summit.

Given the crisis in Gaza, this, of course, became a crucial subject of discussion. Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman stated that “We condemn what the Gaza Strip is facing from military assault, targeting of civilians, the violations of international law by the Israeli occupation authorities”. The joint statement adopted calls for an end to military operations in the occupied Palestinian territories and for the protection of civilians, as well as for an end to the occupation and the establishment of a Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported.

Among the leaders of the 50 countries attending, were the presidents of Nigeria, Kenya, Zambia, Djibouti, Eritrea, Gabon, Malawi, South Africa and Mauritania, the prime ministers of Morocco, Ethiopia and Niger, and the foreign ministers of Mali and Egypt, as well as the Speaker of the Transitional National Assembly of Burkina Faso.

Economically, Prince bin Salman said the King had committed to invest more than a billion dollars in development projects in Africa over ten years. Saudi Arabia is already deeply involved in 54 African nations, having invested more than $45 billion. In addition, as part of its Vision 2030 plan to overhaul the economy, the Kingdom plans to invest some $25 billion in the continent by the end of this decade. Saudi exports to Africa, worth $10 billion, will be financed and insured through 2030, while the Saudi Fund for Development will finance development projects worth about $5 billion, according to SPA. During the summit, over 50 deals and preliminary agreements were signed in various fields, including tourism, energy, finance, mining and logistics.

The participants also decided to set up four working groups aimed at improving and consolidating cooperation between Saudi Arabia and Africa. The first will be dedicated to political, security, and military issues, and the fight against extremism and terrorism; the second to economic issues, development, trade, and investment; the third to cultural exchanges, education, and civilizational communication; and the fourth to the human element and health.

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