Back home in Sierra Leone we learnt about Egypt in the Bible where the great nation was mentioned a couple of times and in the history of Africa as we delved into the Maghreb States in Africa.
It was a unique opportunity to be able to visit this nation where civilization emanated and eclipsed the whole world and to learn about the transformational development that the Egyptian Government is undertaking in all spheres of life.
My trip to Egypt was a long one, spending up to twelve hours in a plane and a brief stop at Nairobi in Kenya both on arrival and at departure.
It was a trip on the expense of the Egyptian Agency of Partnership for Development (EAPD) and on arrival we were well taken care of by the agency including lodging us at one of the best hotels in Egypt, Grand Nile Hotel in Cairo overlooking the ever-flowing Nile River which runs in the middle of Cairo, making it one of the beautiful cities in Africa if not the world.
Of course, this particular trip exposed me to some Egyptian culture as well as some of the transformational development that is being inspired by President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt. It also changed some of the views I had before about Egypt as the country is progressing to ensure the rights of everyone including that of women.
The trip began with an audience with the Grand Imam of Egypt and the head of the AL HAZA Islamic Institute which is one of the oldest Islamic institutes in the world.
The Grand Imam of Egypt made it very clear that their institution is an educational institution with a message of peace to all living and non-living being and the philosophy of Islam.
The Grand Imam dilated on the efforts they have been making in the fight against terrorism. He stated that terrorist groups are only using religion as a cover to undertake their dastard act.
“All citizens are equal regardless of race or creed. In Madina, Jews were participating together with Muslims in everything,” the Grand Imam explained.
He talked about how they have been collaborating with their Coptic Christians counterpart to preach peace and tolerance through the designing of the humanitarian creed.
Similar sentiments were expressed by the Pope of the Coptic Christians in Egypt. The pope explained how they have been living peacefully with their Muslim counterpart in Egypt.
He explained that the Nile River has been a symbol of national unity and a source of spirituality for the Egyptians devoid of creed.
He also resonated with the Grand Imam on the issue of terrorism, noting that terrorism comes from lack of love in the family as terrorists come from family without love.
He explained how the government of President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, has further strengthened religious tolerance by making it a law to build churches in Egypt and that under the previous administration they had only one Christian in the parliament but now they have over 30.
“I visit the Grand Imam often and he also visits me,” the Pope said.
The religious tolerance in Egypt and the liberal policy of President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi in deepening religious tolerance are great and should serve as an example to other states in the world.
EDUCATION AND YOUTH EMPOWERMENT
One of the problems facing Africa is the growing number of youth unemployment which according to many policy analysts if not tackle will create huge problem for many African nations. Well, it seems that the President of Egypt Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, and his government has unique solution to the rising youth unemployment. As part of our visit, we went to the National Training Academy (NTA) of Egypt which was set up by Presidential Decree No. 434 to focus on the human capital and to train not only Egyptian young people in leadership but Africa as a whole.
According to the NTA, their mandate is a strategic programme to qualify young people in leadership position and transfer experience that cannot be provided by other institutions.
We also met the German University in Cairo which is using modern practical solutions to emerging problems facing the young people in Applied Sciences and Technology. The University is equipped with modern scientific equipment to go with the course.
We also meet the British University in Cairo which is also doing very well in arts, economics and medicine. The university has a wonderful dentist hospital.
What is amazing about all these learning institutes is the fact that the government of PresidentAbdel Fattah el-Sisi, as partof his policy to support Africa is dishing scholarships to African countries to be empowered by these institutes.
EGYPTIAN POLICY TO AFRICA
Egypt was isolated from Africa for some time but with the coming of the government of Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, Egypt came back to its African roots. Of course, there is no way one will talk about Africa without mentioning Egypt.
All the educational institutes are providing scholarships for African nations which help in developing the human capacity of those nations.
Apart from that, we saw a situation in which the both the Egyptian Military and Policy academies are providing huge capacity building to similar institutes in other African nations.
They are also helping in the fight against terrorism and extremism in the region.
One may think that Egypt is embarking on all of these things because it is the current chair of the African Union but the Deputy Foreign Minister of Egypt for African Affair, Handi Louza was quick to dismiss that, pointing out that the role of Egypt in Africa will not diminish.
Amazing what most of us saw in Egypt. The Egyptian Government is doing a new administrative capital which lies between Cairo and the Suez Canal. Surprisingly, as it with the usual situation with such huge infrastructural project, there is no budgetary line in the Egyptian budget for this project.
A company was set up to do the development and to look for investors to invest in the project. According to the spokesman, the project is the actualization of a 40 years dream of having a new city for Egypt.
The project was launched in March 2015 and implementation started in May 2016 and it will take 6-7 years to be completed but the work so far in the area is amazing and by the end of June this year some of the government agencies will move to the new city.
African nations should study this Egyptian model of building a new city that will have no effect on their budget.
HUMAN RIGHTS AND GOOD GOVERNANCE
Our views that there was no respect for human right and good governance were met with staking contrast based on the realities that were seen. In fact the rights for women and media freedom are legislated in the Egyptian National Constitution.
A special national women institute was formed by the state to promote women issues in the country and the things the organization is doing are great in upholding the rights of women and to change some of the cultural views of people with regards women.
The media in Egypt is relatively free and some of the journalists of expressed that they enjoyed independence and objectivity in going about their craft.
In my visit to Egypt, I was impressed by what is going on presently especially Egyptian relations with Africa