On February 20-21 Egypt and Arab League hosted Africa 2016 Business Forum at Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt. Egyptian Dictator Gen. Abdel Fattah el-Sisi welcomed African leaders and Prince Karim Agha Khan IV, spiritual leader of Ismaili branch of Shi’ite Muslims.
The African leaders included Omar al-Bashir, president of Sudan, Muhammadu Buhari, president of Nigeria, Ali Bongo, president of Gabon, Uhuru Kenyatta, president of Kenya, Obiang Mbasogo, president of Guinea, and others.
The event attracted over 1200 political and business leaders from 26 nations. The thrust of the event was to integrate African nations economically outside the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM). However, el-Sisi is using the event to project himself as a leader of African continent, as tried by Egyptian president Gamal Nasser and Libyan leader Qaddafi in the past.
Africa Development Bank president Akinwumi Adesina said the bank plans to invest $12bn in the continent’s energy sector over the next five years.
“Africa’s economy is projected to grow by 4.4% this year and 5% in 2017 as against three percent growth expected in developed countries,” he said.
Africa is one of the largest continents in the world and home to 54 sovereign states. The great majority these states have been robbed by their European colonists but a few of them have progressing economies and are quite wealthy. Egypt that has continent’s third largest population (84 million), is not among the top five richest countries in Africa as of 2015 ranked by GDP per capita.
UK-born Prince Karim Agha Khan was invited due to long historical Ismaili links with Africa. Ismailis established Fatimid Empire in Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Libya (909-969), and then in Egypt (969-1171). It were Fatimid who established city of Cairo and Egypt’s oldest university, Al-Azhar.
In 2004, Agha Khan Trust for Culture (AGTC) opened Al-Azhar Park in Cairo. It took seven years to build the park at the cost of US$30 million. The 74-acre park is located on what was a huge 500 year old garbage heap (1.5 million cubic meters) in the middle of old Cairo city build by Fatimids in 969 CE (watch video below).
The AGTC has also built Toronto’s $300 million Agha Khan Museum of Islamic Heritage that opened for public in 2014.