President Cyril Ramaphosa was forced to cut his working visit to Egypt short after he heard the cries of South Africans about the crisis that has gripped Eskom.
His trip to hold crunch talks with President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi was not wasted, though. Ramaphosa still sees Egypt, a country we are newly reacquainted with, as a key ally to develop strong bilateral relations with.
Why is Egypt so important to Ramaphosa?
Ramaphosa’s allegiance to Egypt can be traced back to the country’s role in assisting the ANC in its fight against apartheid. Beyond their political history, there has never been a close-knit trade relationship between the two giant economies.
Since Ramaphosa has taken up presidency, he has been to Egypt on two occasions. The first was when he represented South Africa at an emergency African Union Troika summit in April 2019 to discuss political and security situations in Sudan and Libya.
This time around, though, the cries of South Africa and Egypt’s private sector were heeded by both presidents who met in Zamalek, Cairo.
The outcome of the bilateral talks
Addressing the international media, Ramaphosa indicated that it was important for South Africa and Egypt to review “a wide range of issues of a bilateral, continental and global nature”.
“Our discussions were held in a frank and open manner that was characterised by our commitment to forge a closer partnership,” he said.
While he may have preferred to stay longer, as previously scheduled, to tie up any loose ends with El-Sisi, Ramaphosa did confirm that agreements were made on:
- The need to optimise the increased economic co-operation and trade relations between the two countries;
- Stimulate the growing presence of South African and Egyptian companies in each other’s countries;
- Creating an enabling environment to reduce the cost, and improve the ease, of doing business;
- Addressing regional, continental and international peace and security challenges (El-Sisi is the chairperson of the African Union);
- To work together in pursuit of peace, stability and development on the African continent; and
- Re-affirmed South Africa and Egypt’s common view on the need to promote multilateralism, South-South co-operation and the broad interests of the developing world.
“We have committed ourselves to working together to enhance close political, economic, security and social relations. We have also reaffirmed the need for stronger people-to-people relations and cultural exchanges between our two countries,” Ramaphosa said.
The president is expected to arrive in South Africa between Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning, where he is expected to chair a crunch meeting with Eskom at its Megawatt Park offices in Johannesburg