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December 5, 2017 4:28 pm

By Joining US-Led Energy Project, Israel Further Expands Newly-Flourishing Ties With African Nations

avatar by Barney Breen-Portnoy

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Monday’s signing ceremony in Jerusalem. Photo: GPO.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took another step forward on Monday in his ongoing bid to bolster his country’s ties with African nations.

At a ceremony in Jerusalem, Netanyahu — joined by American Ambassador to Israel David Friedman — signed a Memorandum of Understanding for the accession of Israel to USAID’s Power Africa program. This will let Israeli energy companies take part in projects to generate electricity and connect African consumers to power sources.

Speaking with The Algemeiner on Tuesday, Eli Groner — the director-general of Netanyahu’s office — said, “Often times there is a vision, but it can be challenging in government to put actual meat on the bones of that vision. What we did yesterday was leverage the unparalleled relationship that Israel has with the United States to strengthen Israel’s relations with sub-Saharan Africa.”

Netanyahu, Groner pointed out, has visited Africa three times since the summer of 2016.

“In each and every one of our meetings with African heads of state over the last 18 months, and there have been dozens of such meetings, the issue of how we can bring Israeli ingenuity and Israel technology to these African states has come up,” Groner said.

Now, he continued, Israeli companies will be able to “come into Africa and provide our new friends with the most precious commodity of all — energy.”

“It is very, very clear,” Groner explained, “that the best way to remove someone from poverty is to give them the opportunity to refrigerate their medicines, or to give them the opportunity to read after it gets dark, so they can provide themselves with a better education. Time and again, it’s been proven that the best way to take people out of poverty is by giving them consistent sources of energy.”

“The United States has a stated goal of leveraging the Power Africa program within USAID to bring electricity to 60 million African homes,” he added. “And what we are doing in Israel is formally partnering with the United States to fulfill that vision.”

“Our vision,” Groner declared, “is to create lasting, friendly relationships with African countries. We want more people to like Israel, which is a natural thing.”

One benefit for Israel of making friends in Africa, Groner noted, could be manifested in votes at global institutions, such as the UN.

“We don’t want people voting for Israel in international forums just because it’s the right, moral thing to do,” Groner said. “And we don’t want people to vote for Israel just because it’s a favor. We want people to vote for Israel because it’s in their vested interest.”

Watch Netanyahu’s remarks at Monday’s signing ceremony below:

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