Sisi turns to Sall, the future AU chair, for GERD backing after being disappointed by Tshisekedi.
Egypt wants to strengthen its ties with Senegal, which will hold the African Union’s (AU) presidency next year.
In this context, Egyptian Ambassador to Senegal Noha Khader announced Egypt’s support for Senegal’s upcoming presidency of the African Union, which will begin in January 2022, in an interview with the Senegalese newspaper Le Soleil sometimes in July.
The Egyptian support for Senegal’s AU presidency comes as Cairo prepares for AU-sponsored talks that could resume soon.
To discuss ways to reach a binding legal agreement between Ethiopia, Egypt, and Sudan following the GERD’s second filling phase and Ethiopia’s preparations for the third filling phase.
Egypt has been working to strengthen its economic ties with Senegal. The Egyptian Ministry of Industry announced on July 24 that it would hold more regular exhibitions of Egyptian goods in the West African country.
Egypt and Senegal also signed a protocol on July 9 to establish the Egyptian-Senegalese Joint Business Council to increase trade between the two countries from $67.6 million in 2020 to more than $200 million in the next three years.
“Her country is keen to advance economic relations with Egypt and enhance cooperation in the fields of foreign trade and small and medium enterprises,” Senegalese Minister of Trade and Small and Medium Enterprises Aminata Asoum Diatta said during the signing ceremony.
Egyptian Minister of Trade and Industry Nevine Gamea led a large Egyptian trade delegation to Senegal on July 7, including major Egyptian companies.
Senegal announced on July 10 that it is willing to investigate the establishment of direct shipping lines with Egypt and the elimination of investor visas.
According to the Senegalese Ministry of Trade, Egypt ranks fourth among countries exporting to the Senegalese market.
Egypt has been attempting to court Senegal through investments as well. During her meeting with Senegalese Minister of Water and Sanitation Serigne Mbaye Thiam on Dec. 2, 2020, Khader discussed ways to boost cooperation between the two countries in water and wastewater projects. The two officials also discussed the water project investment opportunities available to Egyptian business people.
In aviation, Egyptian Minister of Civil Aviation Mohammad Manar Enabah discussed the possibility of operating a direct flight between Cairo and Dakar with Senegalese Ambassador to Egypt Elie C. Bay during a meeting in September 2020. Enabah also stated that Egypt is willing to offer Senegal expertise in training, maintenance, and airport management and infrastructure.
In the GERD crisis, Egypt is attempting to mobilize Senegal as one of the key African countries against Ethiopia. Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry visited Dakar in April and discussed Egypt’s position in the crisis with Senegalese President Macky Sall.
Following Egypt’s recent moves toward Senegal, Sall stated on July 10 that “his country will chair the next session of the AU in February and will make it a top priority to find a radical solution to the GERD crisis. To preserve the Egyptian people’s historical rights.”
Sudan has also decided to take advantage of Senegal’s AU presidency next year, following in the footsteps of Egypt. Sudanese Foreign Minister Maryam al-Mahdi urged Sall to pressure Ethiopia to reach a binding agreement on the GERD during a visit to Dakar in May.
In the face of Egyptian-Sudanese moves toward Senegal, Ethiopia did not sit idly by. Melaku Legesse, Ethiopia’s ambassador to Dakar, met with Sall on July 4 to discuss the Ethiopian government’s position on the GERD crisis.
“Egypt is fully aware of the extent of Senegal’s strength and influence in Africa and all African organizations,” Nader Nour el-Din, professor of water resources in the faculty of agriculture at Cairo University, explained in Al- monitor report seen by NCMP.
“Egypt and Senegal have strong ties, and Al-Azhar has a strong presence in Senegal, supporting the country in its fight against extremism and terrorism,” he added.
A Senegalese delegation led by General Coordinator of Combating Terrorism in Senegal Saifallah Sol visited Al-Azhar Foundation in Cairo in December 2020, emphasizing the importance of concerted efforts with Al-Azhar Foundation combat extremism and terrorism and achieve security and stability in Senegal.
“The AU, currently led by the Democratic Republic of the Congo, played a weak role in managing the GERD negotiations this year, so Egypt is attempting to communicate its position and demands to Senegal ahead of its presidency of the AU,” Nour el-Din said.
“Negotiations will resume under the auspices of the African Union before the third filling of the dam,” he said, echoing a demand made by many countries at the [latest] Security Council session on the GERD crisis.
As a result, it is necessary to prepare for those negotiations and seek rapprochement with key players, notably Senegal, which is set to lead the African Union, which is currently sponsoring the GERD negotiations.”
“Under President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, Egypt is pursuing a strategy to restore its role in Africa, especially Senegal,” former Minister of Water Resources and Irrigation Mohamed Nasr Allam explained.
In April 2019, Sisi made the first visit to Senegal by an Egyptian president in 12 years. Sisi met with his Senegalese counterpart, Sall, and the two agreed on the importance of increasing economic, trade, and investment cooperation.
“Senegal may play an influential role in the GERD crisis during its AU presidency in cooperation with regional, international and Arab powers such as China and the US,” Allam added.