Special Event on Africa Day ISSI to celebrate
“Africa Day 2023”
May 25, 2023
The Centre for Afghanistan, Middle East & Africa (CAMEA) at the Institute of Strategic Studies (ISSI) organized a special event to celebrate “Africa Day 2023.”
The Speakers included: Chief Guest, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Kashmir Affairs & Gilgit Baltistan, Mr. Qamar Zaman Kaira; Dean of African Corps/Ambassador of Morocco, H.E. Mohammad Karmoune; Additional Secretary Africa, Mr. Javed Ahmad Umerani; Director General ISSI Ambassador Sohail Mahmood; and Director CAMEA, Ms. 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.
In this keynote address on the occasion, Adviser to the Prime Minister Mr. Qamar Zaman Kaira said that Africa was a Continent full of opportunities and potential and was poised to play an increasingly important role globally, in the years to come. He added that Pakistan’s “Engage Africa” policy was a testament to Pakistan’s commitment to strengthening its relations with African nations in myriad field. He further added that this policy was encouraging trade and investment between Pakistan and African countries. Reaffirming Pakistan’s commitment to the “Engage Africa” policy, he stated that we must overcome any challenges and keep moving forward towards greater progress.
Director General ISSI Amb. Sohail Mahmood, in his welcome remarks, said 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. The Continent was experiencing rapid economic growth and technological advancement. The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) had multiplied those possibilities and it was no wonder that Africa was called the ‘Continent of the Future.’
Ambassador 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. This policy recognized Africa as a priority in Pakistan’s foreign policy agenda. Besides geo-political considerations, the key driver of “Engage Africa” policy was Pakistan’s pivot to geo-economics. This policy framework was aligned with the African Union’s Agenda 2063 as well. He concluded by stressing the importance for both Pakistan and African partners to have clear vision, consistent policy, and long-term strategy.
Director CAMEA Amina Khan, while giving her views, said that 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 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. 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.
Ambassador Mohammed Karmoune, Dean of the African Corps in Pakistan, 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. He noted that the ‘Engage Africa’ policy had resulted in the organisation of three Trade and Development Conferences in Africa. The objective of these forums had been to highlight the untapped potential of trade and investment relations with African countries and to present Pakistan’s export sectors to African business communities. He also shared his thoughts on how the economic relationship could be further deepened and broadened.
Mr. 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.
An interactive discussion followed, where representatives from the African Missions based in Pakistan shared their views. Representatives from the Pakistani Missions based in Africa also joined virtually and reiterated the importance of closer ties with Africa. They also provided updates as well as suggestions on growing trade, economic and investment ties and people-to-people exchanges.
The event concluded with the launch of a Special Issue of ISSI’s PIVOT magazine titled ‘Engaging Africa.’ A cake was cut in celebration of Africa Day.
At the end, the Chief Guest visited all the stalls established by African Missions in Islamabad, displaying African food and other products, which were introduced by the concerned Heads of Missions.