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Israeli-African Relations Towards Economic Development

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Israeli-African Relations Towards Economic Development

Israeli-African relations date back to the period of the continent’s independence. Since then, Israel’s support for African development has continued to improve. This support for the continent’s development takes concrete form in several areas, including economic growth, human development, agriculture, and various other partnerships.

Special Focus on Sub-Saharan Africa

Israel’s diplomatic relations with sub-Saharan Africa began in the early 1950s, at a time when many African countries were gaining independence. Ghana was the first country to establish diplomatic relations with Israel, followed by several West African countries. By the 1970s, Israel had established relations with over 33 countries on the African continent. Gradually, these diplomatic relations were consolidated through several partnership agreements, especially in the economic field.

However, the 1973 Yom Kippur War interrupted this dynamic. Nevertheless, these relations were re-established as many African students continued their studies in Israel, and as the African continent sought Israel’s expertise in the field of education. As a result, Israel’s partnership agreements with sub-Saharan countries were gradually renewed and improved.

At present, Israeli-African relations continue to expand and include not only diplomatic aspects but also political, economic, and cultural dialogues between Israel and several heads of state of sub-Saharan countries, with each side seeking to maintain positive relations.

Recognition of Israel in Africa

Of the 54 countries on the continent, 46 recognize the State of Israel. Many of these nations have strong economic and diplomatic ties. Nigeria, for example, is one of Israel’s most important economic partners in Africa and has had an embassy in Tel Aviv since 1993. Morocco has also increased its economic cooperation with Israel, marking a significant rapprochement between the two countries.

Other countries such as Guinea, Rwanda, Chad, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Sudan also maintain political, economic, and security ties with Israel.

African Fund for Sub-Saharan Countries

During Israel’s first foreign minister, Golda Meir’s visit to Africa in 1958, commitments were made to increase Israel’s aid to sub-Saharan Africa. Today, countries such as Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Rwanda, Senegal, South Sudan, and Uganda benefit from Israeli development assistance.

Several companies, including IsraAID, offer their expertise to sub-Saharan countries, focusing on food and medical aid.

Two major projects are currently underway in sub-Saharan Africa: The Grand Challenge Israel (GCI) and the Israeli-German Initiative for Africa. The GCI aims to support African development in the fields of public health and food security, while the second project involves an Israeli investment of 7 million USD in partnership with a German investment of 70 million USD.

Partnership with the African Union and the African Development Bank

Relations between Israel and African countries have improved over the years. When Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu came to power, Israel declared itself an « observer » in the affairs of the African Union. This decision was recently taken at a meeting of the heads of state of the Assembly of the African Union in February 2023. In addition to its involvement in the African Union, Israel is also seeking to acquire shares in the African Development Bank to facilitate the financing of projects on the continent.

Aid on the African continent

Human Development Sector

Approximately thirty Israeli NGOs are actively involved in human development in African countries. Issues such as low economic growth, climate change, education, and health have motivated these organizations to lend their support to the African continent.

For example, SID Israel, which brings together 170 organizations and specializes in humanitarian aid, expresses its desire to bring Israeli expertise in technology and innovation to Africa. It aligns its goals with the United Nations’ principles of sustainable development.

Other examples include CultivAid, Knowledge-Based Development, Fair Planet, Africa 2030, JDC, and Engineers Without Borders. These organizations run projects focused on human development, such as producing nutritional supplements in Kenya, fighting malnutrition in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and building an innovation and technology center in Kenya.

Supporting African development

The question of why Africa is not developing is often asked and is particularly relevant for countries looking to invest in the continent. It’s important to note that Africa has a wealth of potential and resources that need to be fully tapped to answer this question. What’s more, the continent boasts several emerging economies, such as Nigeria, Kenya, and South Africa, which the IMF has highlighted as having economic potential in several of its reports.

The IMF also stresses the importance of focusing on the benefits of free trade agreements, such as the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA), as this agreement encourages foreign investment, including Israeli investment.

Supporting Rural Development in Africa

Africa is currently experiencing changes in several areas, such as rapid population growth and the effects of climate change, which directly affect rural areas. His Excellency Mr. Netanyahu expresses a strong desire to assist the African continent by providing the technology needed to improve agriculture and water management.

He emphasizes that Israel has the capabilities and resources to increase agricultural production in Africa. Remarkably, the continent has 33 million farmers who contribute 70 % of food production.

With the potential to double or even triple agricultural production, Israel’s CultivAid is committed to supporting this goal. It assists with training for young farmers, capacity building, and improving production value chains while promoting an environmentally responsible environment.

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