President Ramkalawan addresses the First Saudi-African Summit |11 November 2023
‘Summit signifies pivotal shift in Africa-Saudi partnership’
The first Saudi-African Summit signifies a pivotal shift in the Africa-Saudi partnership and leaders must embrace this opportunity to engage in meaningful dialogue and address specific issues, President Wavel Ramkalawan has said.
Seychelles, alongside other African nations, is taking part in the first Saudi-African Summit being held in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
President Ramkalawan, who is currently leading the Seychelles delegation at the summit, addressed the summit during the African Heads of State speech segment yesterday at the King Abdulaziz International Conference Centre.
Delivering his statement President Ramkalawan commended His Majesty the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques and His Royal Highness the Crown Prince of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for organising the First Saudi-African Summit.
“This summit, under the theme ‘Productive Partnership’, signifies a pivotal shift in the Africa-Saudi partnership. Hence, as leaders, let us embrace this opportunity, engage in meaningful dialogue, and address specific issues to reinforce the vital connections between our nations. This is a mission that we should pursue together, as equal partners.
“The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is a strong and trusted partner on which African countries can rely on the shaping of our respective national industries and in enhancing the investment climate by exploring together various areas of cooperation,” said President Ramkalawan.
He highlighted the African Continental Free Trade Agreement, business-to-business engagements in core sectors and the investment and empowerment of women and the youth as some of the most promising avenues for the Saudi-Africa partnership.
“Seychelles appreciates the unfailing support of Saudi Arabia in various sectors, especially through the Saudi Fund for Development. As the chairperson of the African Island States Climate Commission, I wish to highlight, once again, the negative effects of the climate crisis on Seychelles and other African coastal nations, which extends to food security and socio-economic challenges across the entire continent and beyond.
The president further emphasised the need to act together as partners and to take bolder actions to address these critical matters, including the adoption of a multidimensional vulnerability index (MVI), which will take into consideration the vulnerabilities of small island developing states and not solely GDP (gross domestic products) per capita as a measurement for the level of development.
“We look to Saudi Arabia to play a broader role in smaller African countries like Seychelles, in building more resilient and productive food systems that will support food security. Furthermore, Seychelles is keen to engage with Saudi Arabia and other African states in sharing experience and know-how on the effective management of our exclusive economic zone of 1.3 million square kilometres, through maritime security, research and development, and innovative policies to combat illegal unreported unregulated fishing, along with addressing illicit drug trafficking.
President Ramkalawan also spoke about the ongoing crisis in Gaza and Israel as a grave tragedy and a matter of utmost concern for all.
“Seychelles firmly condemns all attacks on civilians in Palestine as in Israel. We call for an end to those indiscriminate attacks, an immediate cessation of hostilities, and a return to the negotiating table. We also reaffirm our support for a two-state solution, which is the only way forward to lasting peace in the region,” said President Ramkalawan.
In concluding, the president called on fellow African heads of State and Government and partners present to use the outcome of this very first summit to maximise own capacities for a healthier and long-term productive partnership between Saudi Arabia and Africa.
On the margins of the summit, Seychelles and Saudi Arabia also signed the General Cooperation Agreement. The signing of the General Cooperation Agreement between the governments of Seychelles and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia marks a significant step towards greater cooperation and connectivity between the two peoples.
This agreement also acts as an umbrella agreement that will permit for an enhancement of bilateral cooperation across a diverse range of areas and sectors.
Other members of the Seychelles delegation attending the summit include the Minister for Foreign Affairs & Tourism, Sylvestre Radegonde; the ambassador of the embassy of Seychelles in Abu Dhabi, Amb. Gervais Moumou; and third secretary bilateral affairs division, James Carpin.
President Ramkalawan arrived in Riyadh late Thursday evening and was welcomed by His Royal Highness Prince Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Abdulaziz, deputy Governor of Riyadh Region, at the King Khalid International Airport.
Also present to welcome President Ramkalawan was Ambassador Moumou.
The inaugural Saudi-Africa Summit is aimed at enhancing political coordination, addressing regional security threats, promoting economic transformation and boosting investment cooperation.
Press release from the Office of the President