Riyadh, Friday 10th November: Seychelles alongside other African nations participated in the first Saudi- African Summit being held in Riyad, Saudi Arabia.
President Wavel Ramkalawan who is currently leading the Seychelles delegation at the summit, addressed the summit during the African Heads of State speech segment.
Delivering his statement President Ramkalawan commended His Majesty the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques and His Royal Highness the Crown Prince of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for organising the First Saudi-African Summit.
"This summit, under the theme of “Productive Partnership”, signifies a pivotal shift in the Africa-Saudi partnership. Hence, as leaders, let us embrace this opportunity, engage in meaningful dialogue, and address specific issues to reinforce the vital connections between our nations. This is a mission that we should pursue together, as equal partners.
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is a strong and trusted partner on which African countries can rely on the shaping of our respective national industries and in enhancing the investment climate by exploring together various areas of cooperation."
He highlighted the African Continental Free Trade Agreement, Business-to-business engagements in core sectors and the Investment and Empowerment of Women and the Youth as some of the most promising avenues for the Saudi-Africa partnership.
"Seychelles appreciates the unfailing support of Saudi Arabia in various sectors, especially through the Saudi Fund for Development. As the Chairperson of the African Island States Climate Commission, I wish to highlight, once again, the negative effects of the climate crisis on Seychelles and other African coastal nations, which extends to food security and socio-economic challenges across the entire continent and beyond.
The President further emphasized the need to act together as partners and to take bolder actions to address these critical matters, including the adoption of a Multidimensional Vulnerability Index (MVI), which will take into consideration the vulnerabilities of Small Island Developing States and not solely GDP per Capita as a measurement for the level of development.
"We look to Saudi Arabia to play a broader role in smaller African countries like Seychelles, in building more resilient and productive food systems that will support food security. Furthermore, Seychelles is keen to engage with Saudi Arabia and other African States in sharing experience and know-how on the effective management of our Exclusive Economic Zone of 1.3 million square kilometres, through maritime security, research and development, and innovative policies to combat Illegal Unreported Unregulated fishing, along with addressing illicit drug trafficking.
President Ramkalwam also spoke about the ongoing crisis in Gaza and Israel as a grave tragedy and a matter of utmost concern for all.
"Seychelles firmly condemns all attacks on civilians in Palestine as in Israel. We call for an end to those indiscriminate attacks, an immediate cessation of hostilities, and a return to the negotiating table. We also reaffirm our support for a two-state solution, which is the only way forward to lasting peace in the region."
In concluding, the President called on fellow African Heads of State and Government and partners present to use the outcome of this very first Summit to maximise own capacities for a healthier and long-term productive partnership between Saudi Arabia and Africa.
On the margins of the summit, Seychelles and Saudi Arabia also signed the General Cooperation Agreement. The signing of the General Cooperation Agreement between the Governments of Seychelles and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia marks a significant step towards greater cooperation and connectivity between the two peoples. This agreement also acts as an umbrella agreement that will permit for an enhancement of bilateral cooperation across a diverse range of areas and sectors.
Other members of the Seychelles delegation attending the summit included the Minister for Tourism and Foreign Affairs, Mr Sylvestre Radegonde, the Ambassador of the Embassy of Seychelles in Abu Dhabi, Amb. Gervais Moumou and Third Secretary Bilateral Affairs Division, Mr James Carpin.