PM Netanyahu with officials at the signing of the Power Africa Initiative agreement. (David Azgury/US Embassy Tel Aviv) (David Azgury/US Embassy Tel Aviv)
Netanyahu Power Africa

Israel has joined the USAID Power Africa initiative, another project through which Israel is contributing to Africa. 

Israel on Monday joined the USAID Power Africa initiative, which works to enable electricity access by adding 60 million new electricity connections and 30,000 megawatts of new and cleaner power generation to several countries in sub-Saharan Africa.

Currently, two out of three people in the region lack access to electricity.

Power Africa brings together technical and legal experts, the private sector, and governments from around the world to work in partnership to increase the number of people with access to power.

The agreement, between the Prime Minister’s Office and the US Government, enables Israeli companies  to take part in the Power Africa initiative and to receive various tools to advance projects for generating electricity and connecting consumers on the continent.

To these ends, companies will have increased access to government officials and receive monetary grants, ties with financial elements will be advanced, professional and legal advice will be made available and feasibility studies will be conducted.

The agreement signing ceremony was held in Jerusalem and was attended by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli Minister of Economy Eli Cohen, US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, Power Africa Coordinator Andrew M. Herscowitz, several African ambassadors to Israel and other officials.

‘Let There Be Light’

Netanyahu called the new agreement a “great partnership between Israel, the United States and Africa.”

“This is an initiative that will electrify Africa – well, literally and figuratively. This is bringing light, and every time that an African mother will turn on the light or turn on a heater for some water for her children, part of Israel will be there. It’s a great, great development,” Netanyahu stated.

He said this move comports with his vision “to have Israel come back to Africa and have Africa come back to Israel. It was a wonderful partnership in the ‘60s, derailed, now back on track in full force. This locomotive is going very fast.”

In the last 18 months, Netanyahu has been in Africa three times , most recently for a 12 hour visit in Kenya last week, during which he met presidents of Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Rwanda, Togo, Botswana and Namibia, as well as the Ethiopian prime minister and other leaders.

In August, Senegal and Guinea, two Muslim-majority West African nations, sent their first-ever full-time ambassadors to Israel.

“Just as Israel helped agriculture in Africa in the ‘60s, it can now help every realm of life in the beginning of the 21st century,” Netanyahu said.

“It’s a remarkably positive development. We’re going to continue this step after step after step. We believe in Africa. I believe in Africa. I believe in the partnership with Africa. And what better partnership can we have than having USAID, the US government, Israel and the African countries working together to secure a better future,” he declared.

Netanyahu finished his remarks by referring to the two Hebrew words that begin the Bible. “It takes four words to say it in English, but I’ll say it and it summarizes everything that we’re doing here: Let there be light,” the Israeli premier concluded.

Israel has a long history of sharing its expertise with African countries, and Jerusalem hopes that stronger ties will lead to a shift in voting trends at the UN and other global forums, thus reversing what Netanyahu has labeled the “automatic majority against Israel.”

By: Max Gelber, United with Israel

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