Advisor to Prime Minister on Kashmir Affairs Qamar Zaman Kaira Thursday said that Africa with full of opportunities and potential, would play an increasingly important role at the global level in coming years.
He was speaking at a special event organized by the Centre for Afghanistan, Middle East and Africa (CAMEA) at the Institute of Strategic Studies (ISSI) to celebrate “Africa Day 2023”, said a news release.
Kaira said that Pakistan’s “Engage Africa” policy was a testament to its commitment to strengthening its relations with African nations in myriad field. The policy is encouraging trade and investment between Pakistan and African countries, he added.
Reaffirming Pakistan’s commitment to the engage Africa policy, he stated, “We must overcome any challenges and keep moving forward towards greater progress.”
The other speakers on the occasion were Dean of African Corps/Ambassador of Morocco, Mohammad Karmoune; Additional Secretary Africa Javed Ahmad Umerani; Director General ISSI Ambassador Sohail Mahmood and Director CAMEA Amina Khan.
The Heads of African Missions in Pakistan and Heads of Pakistan Missions in Africa also spoke on the occasion. Academics and members of the business community and students participated in the celebratory event. Stalls exhibiting African products were also set up by the African Missions in Islamabad.
Director General ISSI Sohail Mahmood, in his welcome remarks, said that Pakistan’s relations with Africa were long-standing, marked by warmth, cordiality, mutual respect and close cooperation. Africa, with its vast natural resources, young population and untapped potential had emerged as a land of immense opportunities, he expressed.
He said that the continent was experiencing rapid economic growth and technological advancement, adding the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) has multiplied those possibilities and it is no wonder that Africa is called the ‘Continent of the Future.
Sohail Mahmood added that this Africa Day was an important occasion to acknowledge the significance of “Engage Africa” policy as part of Pakistan commitment to comprehensively upgrade its partnership with African countries, both on the bilateral and Continental plane.
On the occasion, Amina Khan said every year, CAMEA at ISSI commemorates ‘Africa Day’. This served as a testament to ISSI’s unwavering commitment to foster closer relations between Pakistan and the African Continent, she said.
She added that Pakistan had established and strengthened diplomatic missions across the Continent to facilitate meaningful dialogue and promote cooperation in diverse areas of mutual interest. The economic cooperation formed a vital pillar of Pakistan’s engagement with Africa and therefore recognized the tremendous potential for trade and investment between the two sides, she added.
Dean of the African Corps Ambassador Mohammed Karmoune , while expressing his views, said that Africa was now building its single market to facilitate trade among states parties to the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and with the rest of the world.
He further said that the African Union had made the ‘Acceleration of the African Continental Free Trade Area implementation’ its main theme for the year 2023 to increase the attractiveness of the African market for trade and investment, though a number of critical protocols were yet to be negotiated, finalized and implemented.
Javed Ahmad Umrani, Additional Secretary (Africa) at the Foreign Office, underlined that Africa Day served as a significant reminder of the historic struggles and aspirations of the African people in their journey towards independence, self-determination and unity, which Pakistan had fully supported.
Pakistan and Africa shared bonds that went beyond geographical proximity and these historical bonds had been reemphasized with the introduction of the ‘Engage Africa’ policy by Pakistan, which had become an important part of the country’s foreign policy agenda, he added.
The event concluded with the launch of a special Issue of ISSI’s PIVOT magazine titled ‘Engaging Africa.’