Saudi Arabia has high expectations for the Saudi-Arab-African Economic Conference, a summit in which it has made substantial investments. Notably, the event welcomed leaders without Western support, including Gabon’s transitional leader, General Brice Oligui Nguema, who seized power from longtime president Omar Bongo in a coup in August.
According to RFI’s correspondent in Gabon, Yves-Laurent Goma, General Nguema aimed to address forest protection issues while also advocating for the lifting of global sanctions against his country.
In the opening statements, Saudi Finance Minister Mohammed Al-Jadaan emphasized the “common history and destiny” shared between Saudi Arabia and the African continent, highlighting the evolving partnership between the two sides. Investment Minister Khalid Al-Falih announced significant investments by the kingdom’s 600 billion euro wealth fund, the Public Investment Fund, which he described as “game-changing” for Africa.
The summit saw the signing of preliminary energy agreements with countries such as Nigeria, Senegal, Chad, and Ethiopia. Riyadh also pledged assistance to Ghana and other nations in managing their debt.
In specific financial arrangements, Mozambique announced a $158 million financing agreement with the Saudi Development Fund for infrastructure projects, including the construction of hospitals and a dam.
Saudi Arabia has been actively building diplomatic ties with the African continent since the 1970s, with a significant boost in 2018 marked by the appointment of a secretary of state dedicated to African Affairs. The nation plays a crucial role as a mediator in the ongoing conflict in Sudan and contributes financially to the G5 Sahel’s fight against terrorism. The economic conference serves as a testament to Saudi Arabia’s commitment to strengthening partnerships and fostering economic development across the African continent.