In a significant move to enhance bilateral relations, Ambrose Lufuma, Zambia’s Minister of Defence, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with his Egyptian counterpart, Minister of Defence and Military Production Mohamed Zaki, during his official visit to Egypt on 17 June.
The MoU signifies a mutual desire to bolster military cooperation and training between the two nations, aligning with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s earlier statements in June that emphasized the bond between Egypt and Zambia. President al-Sisi had visited the Zambian capital, Lusaka, to attend the 22nd Summit of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA). The decision to strengthen military ties between Zambia and Egypt, despite the geographical distance, can be understood within the respective contexts of each country.
Cairo, seeking to expand its influence on the African continent, aims to counterbalance its diminishing sway over the Arab world. Additionally, Egypt has experienced strained relations with Sudan and Ethiopia concerning control over the Nile’s waters. On the other hand, Lusaka finds itself situated in a region where security is deteriorating due to its proximity to the conflicts in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and the jihadist insurrection in northern Mozambique. However, Egypt and Zambia’s diplomatic relations extend beyond defence, as they previously signed another MoU in late 2022 to foster cooperation in the field of information and communication technology (ICT).
Given Egypt’s ongoing production of a domestic Infantry Fighting Vehicle (IFV) known as the SENA 200, which is still seeking foreign buyers, Cairo’s diplomatic efforts in Africa could potentially result in its first export. Zambia appears to be upgrading its military equipment, as evidenced by recent purchases of 35 Russian GAZ Tigr infantry vehicles and six Israeli ATMOS 2000 self-propelled howitzers. Moreover, Egypt might consider offering or donating units from its extensive fleet of domestic FAHD armoured personnel carriers as part of the military collaboration between the two countries.
While economic ties between Egypt and Zambia have been growing, with an annual trade volume of approximately $328.9 million, both governments express a shared commitment to further emphasize their relationship, which could positively impact trade between the two nations.
Written by ADIT – The Bulletin and republished with permission.