Egypt and Indonesia: Long partnership and common aspirations – Opinion
Sultan of Ashraf
Fri 23 July 2021
Friday Egypt celebrates 69e anniversary of the 1952 revolution, which ended the monarchy and created a republic in the country. It was an event that not only contributed to the escalation of decolonization in the Arab world and Africa, but also brought about profound political, economic and social changes in Egypt.
Egypt’s sustainable development strategy, “Vision 2030”, represents an anchor on the path to inclusive and sustainable development. Serious reforms continue to change and improve the economy. The growth of gross domestic product (GDP) reached 3.8% in 2020, despite the various negative effects of the pandemic, and it is expected to reach 5.8% this year. Growth is driven by diversifying the economy, improving its competitiveness and increasing foreign investment, in addition to an approach of deeply addressing infrastructure issues to achieve comprehensive solutions.
Megaprojects in the renewable energy sector have helped Egypt turn its 2014 energy deficit into an energy surplus. Electricity interconnection projects to build and strengthen networks between Egypt and many of its Middle Eastern neighbors and other partners are underway. Egypt is striving to become a regional hub for the production and export of electricity.
New gas discoveries in the Mediterranean have enabled Egypt to meet its internal needs and resume gas exports. A new administrative capital is under construction and is ready to start operating gradually from 2021 to 2023. 15 more new cities are under construction, mega water desalination projects are under construction, in addition to the modernization of ports and transport networks, as well as modernization of government services. . Likewise, remarkable improvements have been made in other sectors including petrochemicals, fisheries, fertilizers, mechanical industries, textiles, food industries, building materials and agriculture.
Huge efforts have been crowned with success over the past decades in Egypt and Indonesia to improve economic competitiveness, modernize infrastructure, promote investments and provide more employment opportunities to improve the living conditions of citizens and achieve the SDGs.
As Egypt and Indonesia commemorate 75 years of diplomatic relations, the two countries continue to work together towards more strategic partnerships, developing bilateral cooperation for mutual benefit and a better future.
Since the early days of countries’ independence, the international scene has evolved, triggering new economic and political challenges. The main principles that the two countries have shared for a long time are still relevant today. The two countries are actively engaged in promoting regional peace and stability, strengthening regional economic cooperation and achieving sustainable development goals. These remain the driving force of their relations and their agreement on several international issues. And today, issues such as human rights, women’s empowerment, climate change, the fight against terrorism and overcoming the COVID-19 pandemic are among the common interests of countries.
The spread of the pandemic is a new challenge, and Egypt and Indonesia may share similar views on issues of global vaccine accessibility procurement. Both countries are also aiming to produce vaccines locally to help meet their needs.
Much has been accomplished by the two countries in the areas of public health, education, human rights, energy, agriculture, industry and transport. Numerous ambitious plans for the development of services, renewable energies, protection of the environment – as well as new areas such as the digital economy, financial inclusion and the creative economy – offer several opportunities for more cooperation.
There are different and non-traditional models of economic cooperation that can be considered for the benefit of both countries. Therefore, important steps have been taken to update and diversify the bilateral legal framework agreements in order to make more room for the expansion of cooperation and to elevate it to higher levels. The challenges and aspirations are very similar.
Mutual trade and investment between the two countries is eligible for significant growth as joint promotional efforts continue despite the pandemic. This year, we are witnessing a new addition to Egyptian investments in Indonesia in the field of electricity.
It is expected that all measures taken in both countries to continuously promote investment will increasingly pay off. In addition, Egypt and Indonesia are expanding their production base, which encourages increased and diversified business opportunities.
The two countries are equally keen to promote peace, solidarity and moderation.
In recent decades, the cultural component of bilateral relations has been characterized by a strong and lasting relationship between Al-Azhar University in Egypt and the Ministry of Religious Affairs and several religious institutions in Indonesia. Al-Azhar offers full annual scholarships and receives a significant number of self-funded Indonesian students. Over the past ten years, approximately 100,000 Indonesian students have graduated from Al-Azhar, making Indonesians the largest nationality of students studying at Al-Azhar. The new Al-Azhar Arabic Language Studies Center, inaugurated in 2019, plays an important role in helping young Indonesians learn the Arabic language and expand their field of study.
These ancient ties are well noted by a special arch in the main nave of the mosque called “Jawi”, referring to the island of Java in Indonesia, as a cultural symbolism of the long historical presence of Indonesian students in the Al Mosque. -Azhar. This people-to-people exchange is a valuable cultural aspect in the friendly and friendly relations that characterize relations between Egypt and Indonesia.
I am completely convinced that the two countries are ready to work closely together for better economic and cultural ties.
The writer is Ambassador of the Arab Republic of Egypt to Indonesia.