Sharm El Sheikh, 8 December 2017

It is my privilege to join His Excellency, President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, in opening this very important event. I wish to commend President Sisi’s vision and foresight in bringing all the regions of our continent together, in collaboration with COMESA, to empower our youth through business and entrepreneurship.

This reminds us once again of Egypt’s historic commitment to Africa’s independence and progress, and its unique role as a bridge between Africa and the wider Middle East.

Africa’s future prosperity will be delivered, in large part, through inclusive private-sector growth. However, governments have a big role to play to make that a reality.

Let me give three examples.

First, by making it easier to do business within our countries. Our continent has to catch up fast and compete globally. We can’t afford to waste opportunities because of unnecessary red tape and the associated delays.

Second, by making it easier to do business with each other in Africa, and integrating our markets to make them more attractive for investment.

This is why regional cooperation is becoming increasingly central to Africa’s future, as we see with the Tripartite Free Trade Area, signed here in Sharm El Sheikh in 2015, which joins COMESA, the East African Community, and the Southern African Development Community, not to mention the larger Continental Free Trade Area being led by the African Union.

The institutional reform of the African Union that is currently underway, with strong support from African leaders, is essential to getting these agreements fully operational so that our citizens can enjoy the benefits.

The third example is to put information technology and broadband connectivity into the hands of our young people, particularly entrepreneurs. That is the logic behind the Smart Africa initiative, based in Kigali, with more than twenty Member States around the continent.

Prosperous economies are knowledge economies.

In closing, allow me once again to thank our host, President Sisi, and all the organisers, and to wish you productive deliberations. Thank you for your kind attention.