Posted with permission from The Times of Israel
Devsena Mishra

Africa, the world’s second largest continent has the enormous potential for development and growth. A strong alliance with mutual objectives and clear intent is crucial. The joint efforts of India and Israel can speed up the pace of development in Africa.

Today Africa is becoming more stable and African nations are joining hands to take the responsibility of their development, peace, and security. With the economic reforms, infrastructure development and sustainable use of resources, African countries are reviving their economies. According to the Doing Business 2016 report, a number of African countries have made some good attempts to improve their business environments. The five countries of Africa are listed on the world’s top 10 improvers, namely Uganda, Kenya, Mauritania, Senegal, and Benin. The improvements in the regulatory environment, young demographic dividend, ongoing urbanization and a growing middle class are some of the key factors that make Africa a land of opportunities. Africa is eager to participate in the global mainstream of innovation. The mobile and digital technology ventures such M-Pesa, MedAfrica, AgriManagr and Kilimo Salama etc. are active in the remotest parts of the Africa. During Prime Minister Modi’s Israel visit, PM Netanyahu has talked about the possibilities of the collaboration for Africa and he said: “We’re talking about also cooperation in the third countries and actually working together to better the future of the people of Africa.”

India’s Recent Activities in Africa

During the last two years, PM Modi has visited six African Countries: South Africa, Mozambique, Tanzania, Kenya, Mauritius, and Seychelles. India’s approach towards the cooperation with Africa is demand-driven and free of conditions. In 2015, the third India-Africa summit was held in Delhi and it was attended by all 54 African countries. During the Third India-Africa Forum Summit, India offered 10 billion dollars for development projects in Africa and a grant assistance of 600 million dollars.

Solar Energy is one of the key areas where India is actively working in the Africa. The Indian government has allocated $2 billion for solar projects in Africa. The ‘Solar Mamas’ initiative which is supported by the Government of India, is providing the vocational training related to fabrication, repair, and maintenance of solar lanterns and household solar lighting to women from Tanzania and few other African countries. Every year eighty African women receive training in India to work on solar panels and circuits. Each woman is responsible for electrifying 50 houses in her community on return. This program is for illiterate or semi-literate women. These women also learn several other skills, like basket making, bee keeping, and kitchen gardening during their stay.

India’s Pan Africa e-network project has covered 48 African countries. It is Africa’s one of the biggest ICT project. This project links 7 Indian and 5 African universities, 12 Indian and 5 African super-specialty hospitals and 53 telemedicine and tele-education centers in Africa. In 2012, India has launched the Cotton Technical Assistance Programme for African Countries. The project is being implemented in six African countries: Benin, Burkina Faso, Chad, Malawi, Nigeria, and Uganda. India is engaged in developing capacity building institutions, infrastructure, public transport and manufacturing capabilities in Africa.

India – Africa trade has doubled in the last five years. India is the fifth largest country investing in the Africa. The bilateral trade between Africa and India is expected to reach $117 billion by 2021. Some 34 African countries enjoy duty-free access to the Indian market. The rural development and agriculture, energy, education and skill development, regional connectivity and quality of life are some of the key priorities of the Indian government’s cooperation programmes in Africa.

Israel’s Recent Activities in Africa

In early July 2016, Mr. Netanyahu became the first Israeli premier in decades to travel to the Africa when he visited four East African nations: Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, and Ethiopia. Since then the frequency of talks, exchanges and bilateral visits between the two nations has increased. Israeli entrepreneurial spirit and innovations 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 the technology. MASHAV’s approach in Africa is integrated and sustainable with a focus on food security, water safety, sanitation, healthcare, economic growth, community building, women empowerment, and education.

MASHAV is actively working for reducing neonatal and maternal mortality in Ghana and it has established the mother-and-baby neonatal unit in Ghana. In Ethiopia, Israel’s MASHAV is involved in the horticulture, healthcare, clean energy and other sustainable development programs through its different Centers of Excellence. Last year, MASHAV and USAID have launched the IV Phase of the Joint Cooperation Program in Smallholder Horticulture in Ethiopia. In 2016, MASHAV 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. The initiatives such as ‘Training the Trainers’, Project TEN, the “Kangaroo System” introduced by Israeli medical trainers and other different Israeli organization’s 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, the ministers and many other top officials from a number of Western African countries have participated in this conference. An Africa – Israel summit is scheduled for the coming month of October too. Over 100 Israeli companies are expected to participate in this summit.

Africa is blessed with an abundance of natural resources. Africa has 60% of the world’s arable land reserves. The combination of Israeli Innovations/conceptual abilities and Indian government’s ‘Collective efforts, Inclusive growth’ approach can provide a right direction to the 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 of Africa.