Sunday, September 10, 2017

Israel’s recent activities in Africa

In early July 2016, Prime Minister Netanyahu became the first Israeli premier in decades to travel to Africa when he visited four East African nations: Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda and Ethiopia. Since then the frequency of talks, exchanges and bilateral visits has increased. Israeli entrepreneurial spirit and innovation can play a crucial role in the development of Africa. Israel can prove to be a great partner for the young African entrepreneurs who are harnessing the power of technology. The approach of Israel’s Agency for International Development Cooperation (MASHAV) in Africa is integrated and sustainable, with a focus on food security, water safety, sanitation, healthcare, economic growth, community building, women’s empowerment and education.

MASHAV is working to reduce neonatal and maternal mortality in Ghana and has established the mother-and-baby neonatal unit in that country. In Ethiopia, MASHAV is involved in horticulture, healthcare, clean energy and other sustainable development programs through its Centers of Excellence. Last year, MASHAV and USAID launched the IV Phase of the Joint Cooperation Program in Smallholder Horticulture in Ethiopia. In 2016 MASHAV also launched the first Israel-Kenya Steering Committee on Water Cooperation.

Israel is also cooperating technically and financially in the Galana/ Kulalu food security project, which is one of the largest irrigation projects in Kenya. The goal of this project is to provide water for sustainable farming through development, rehabilitation and modernization of irrigation and drainage. The cooperating parties in this project are the Kenyan government, MASHAV through CINADCO, and the Israeli company Green Arava. Initiatives such as “Training the Trainers,” Project TEN, the “Kangaroo System” introduced by Israeli medical trainers, and other Israeli organizations’ projects on solar energy, drip irrigation, water and food safety, etc., have received a good response in Africa.

Last year MASHAV and ECOWAS hosted a conference related to sustainable agricultural productivity in arid and semi-arid regions. Ministers and many other top officials from a number of Western African countries participated in this conference. An Africa-Israel summit is scheduled for the coming October, too. Over 100 Israeli companies are expected to participate.

Africa is blessed with an abundance of natural resources. Africa has 60% of the world’s arable land reserves. The combination of Israeli innovation/conceptual abilities and India’s “collective effort, inclusive growth” approach can provide the right direction to sustainable development efforts in Africa. Clean and renewable energy, healthcare, agriculture and rural development, vocational/technical education, and entrepreneurship promotion are some of the key areas where India and Israel need to collaborate for a better future for Africa.

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