CAIRO (AP) — Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi opened an Africa-focused investment conference on Saturday with government and private sector representatives, part of Cairo's efforts to strengthen ties with sub-Saharan African countries amid tensions over sharing the Nile.
Egypt's private sector investment in Africa exceeds $8 billion, and Cairo hopes to double its trade with other African nations in the next five years to $10 billion, he said in a televised speech at the conference, which is being held in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh.
The World Bank expects average economic growth in sub-Saharan countries to reach 4.4 percent in 2016 and 4.8 percent the following year.
In 2014, el-Sissi established the Egyptian Agency of Partnership for Development to provide assistance and promote development in sub-Saharan Africa. The agency has brought 2,500 people to Egypt over the agency's first 18 months for medical, agricultural and diplomatic training, and has sent medical convoys to the region.
Egypt has voiced fears that Ethiopia's $4.2 billion hydroelectric project, announced in 2011, will diminish its share of the Nile, which provides electricity and almost all of the desert nation's water.
Both Egypt and Sudan have expressed concerns the dam will violate their rights -- as outlined in a colonial-era agreement -- to the lion's share of the river. Ethiopia is nevertheless pressing ahead with construction of the massive new dam, which it hopes will help alleviate its own power shortages.
"The issue of the water and Ethiopia, of course it's a tense issue," said Ambassador Hazem Fahmy, who heads the Egyptian development agency.
"The more you have integration of interests and a common vision toward the future, the less the size of these problems."