Israel, World Bank to increase joint work in Africa

Accords for cooperation to be signed on water, cybersecurity and agriculture

Shoshanna Solomon is The Times of Israel's Startups and Business reporter

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with African leaders in Uganda on July 4, 2016. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with African leaders in Uganda on July 4, 2016. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)

Israel and the World Bank are planning to expand cooperation in water, cybersecurity and agriculture in African countries in the coming months, Israel’s Economy Minister Eli Cohen said.

Three new cooperation agreements in these fields will be signed with the World Bank. “Cooperation with the World Bank is an opportunity for us to showcase some of the capabilities and innovation that Israel can offer to developing countries,” he said in a statement.

The accords come as the Foreign Trade Administration at the Economy Ministry is seeking to reinforce cooperation with financial institutions involved in development, with the goal of sharing Israeli know-how, technology and expertise with the developing world and in turn strengthen Israel’s economic ties with emerging markets.

Over the past few years, the Israeli ministry has spearheaded several agreements with the World Bank on water, information and communication technologies as well as an agreement for cooperation with the IFC, the private sector arm of the World Bank Group.

The president of the World Bank, Dr. Jim Yong Kim, visited Israel this week and met with President Reuven Rivlin, Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, and the economy minister, Cohen, the statement said.

The World Bank Group and its affiliated institutions fund projects globally via loans or through investments. The group is active in developing countries and in 2016 offered $64 billion in funding to various projects, the statement said.

In July, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held a four-day tour to Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda and Ethiopia in an effort to strengthen Israel’s economic and political ties with Africa. While Israel’s traditional allies — the US and Europe — pressure Israel to make peace with the Palestinians, organizing international peace summits and threatening sanctions, Netanyahu sees Africa as a potential savior. If African countries vote as a block, Netanyahu’s thinking goes, they can help break the Arabs’ automatic majority in international forums such as the UN.

In December, however, Netanyahu instructed the Foreign Ministry to cancel all aid programs to Senegal after the African country supported an anti-settlement resolution at the UN Security Council.

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