Alwaght-The Emir of Qatar ended his African visit in Ghana on Sunday after visiting five other countries and granted nearly 100 hundred million dollars to fund various development projects.
Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani concluded his visit by holding talks with Ghanaian President of the Republic of Ghana Nana Akufo-Addo in Accra where he was accorded a grand reception which included a 21-gun salute in his honor.
The Qatari Emir visited six West African countries Senegal, Guinea, Mali, Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso and Ghana in what was touted as a significant visit as it was his first visit to the region since assuming office in 2013. The visit reflects Qatar’s keenness to expand its partnership with Africa, a continent with some of the world’s emerging markets.
During the visit, agreements were signed for a number of projects, including $13.8mn for funding a cancer hospital in Burkina Faso and a program for educating 596,000 children in Mali with an estimated contribution of $40mn as part of the ‘Educate a Child’ initiative.
Qatar has funded previous projects and provided material support worth millions of dollars to these countries through The Qatar Fund for Development. Qatar has also implemented projects valued at $42mn in Ghana, and provided aid estimated at more than $6mn to Cote d’Ivoire, $814,000 to Burkina Faso and $200,000 to Senegal.
Highlighting the importance of the Emir’s tour of West Africa, Spokesperson for Qatar’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs Lulwa al-Khater has said that it aims to strengthen Qatar’s relations with West Africa, an economically promising region despite security challenges it faces.
The visit is also seen as a bid to counter Saudi influence in the African countries.
The trip comes six months after Saudi Arabia and three other Arab states cut ties with the wealthy Persian Gulf state.
Saudi attempt to isolate Qatar in Africa
In October, Qatar's foreign minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani revealed that Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates compelled vulnerable African countries to cut ties with Doha.
Despite the spirited attempts by Riyadh only Chad, Mauritania and Comoros severed ties with Qatar while Niger and Djibouti recalled their ambassadors. Somalia reportedly rejected Saudi bribes to abandon Qatar and continues to maintain ties with Doha.
Media reports indicated failed to persuade the African countries to take a stance against Qatar during an African Union Summit in Addis Ababa July 4.
Diplomatic sources say African leaders who attended the summit in Ethiopia agreed that the continent should not meddle in the crisis between Qatar and the four Saudi-led regimes.
Blow to Saudis
This wass the third foreign tour the Qatari Emir undertook after a blockade was imposed on the tiny Persian Gulf state by the Saudi-led quartet on June 5. Therefore, the visit to West Africa and the important deals signed is another blow to the efforts of the blockading countries to isolate Qatar and tarnish its image in the international community.
The tour of the West African countries, and the earlier successful visits of the Emir to Europe and Asia since the imposition of the unjust siege, are in keeping with Qatar’s global plan to expand its relations with other countries based on constructive co-operation.