The Federation of Egyptian Industries (FEI) was in full support of the policy of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi to strengthen the country’s relations with the rest of Africa. “As a business community, we will endorse our Government’s role in Africa,” affirmed FEI African Cooperation Committee Chairperson Dr Sherif El Gabaly, at the joint FEI/South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SACCI) Egypt/South Africa Trade and Investment Forum in Johannesburg on Thursday. (El Gabaly headed the FEI delegation.)
“Our main task is to develop our relations with different African countries,” he stated. “We’re giving South Africa great importance. … We have a great role to play in Africa.”
This had not previously been the case, on both sides. “On the whole, we did not have enough contacts between the two biggest economies in Africa,” he noted. While accepting that the structures of the economies of the two countries were similar, he argued that there were also synergies between them.
“Since 2013, Egypt has embarked on a very huge development programme. Megaprojects,” he highlighted. These included the new administrative capital, to which Government departments would start moving this year. “Egypt is very strong in chemical industries,” including fertilizers and petrochemicals.
“We have discovered big gas fields,” added El Gabaly. “Egypt is becoming a hub of energy in the Middle East today.”
The lack of contact between the two countries had resulted in a very low level of bilateral trade. Currently, this amounted to just $300-million. In her presentation to the FEI/SACCI Forum, South African Department of Trade and Industry Trade Invest Africa Chief Director Zanele Sanni pointed out that South African trade with the entire North African region amounted to just 1.6% of total South African trade with the whole of Africa.
“At the moment, South Africa does enjoy a trade surplus [with Egypt],” she observed. “Most of the trade between our two countries is value-added products.”
The FEI has 19 specialised chambers and more than 30 000 members. El Gabaly described the Federation’s delegation to South Africa as having been “very high level”.