On the verge of a four-day tour of East Africa in 2016, Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu told his country’s media, “Israel returns to Africa, just as Africa is returning to Israel. In seizing the future, Israel is coming back to Africa in more than a verbal way.”
And true to every word, Mr. Netanyahu made a statement of intent in seizing the future with a huge investment of $US1 billion in solar energy for Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to benefit member countries.
Israel’s leading solar developer, Energiya Global, will carry out the investment over the next four years to advance green energy power projects across the 15 member states.
The deal came into effect on yesterday between the State of Israel and ECOWAS when PM Netanyahu and the ECOWAS President signed a Memorandum of Understanding at the 51st ECOWAS Summit in Margibi County.
The Israeli PM was a guest of honor at the 51st ECOWAS Heads of State and Government Summit.
Netanyahu addressed the 15 ECOWAS heads of states and other dignitaries at the summit with a pledge that “Israel is coming back to Africa.” He outlined the technological innovations in agriculture, water, green energy and economic support to West Africa.
He affirmed that Israel has a lot to offer Africa and all of its initiatives would be of great benefit to the region.
The energy deal will benefit Liberia which has had a long history with Israel beginning with the very formation of the State of Israel in 1948. Liberia was one of the affirmers of the creation of Israel.
In what could be considered as reciprocation of this gesture, Israel has been pivotal in the implementation of major infrastructure projects in Liberia. Long before the civil war, Israel made its presence felt with the construction of the seat of the Liberian presidency, the Executive Mansion, and the Ministry of National Defense building which was on the verge of completion when the civil crisis erupted.
Another was Ducor Palace Hotel, Africa’s first continental Five-Star hotel, constructed by an Israeli construction and engineering company. From the near-perfect handiwork in Liberia, the company was invited by President Felix Houphouet Boigny of Ivory Coast to build that country’s first and largest resort, Hotel Ivoire.
With Israel’s new solar energy project, Liberia stands to benefit by US$20 million out of this huge sum which is geared towards providing clean energy to a continent that is already bearing the devastating impacts of climate change.
“Energiya Global and our international partners will finance and build a commercial-scale solar field at the Roberts International Airport, which will supply 25% of the country’s generation capacity,” the company’s CEO, Yosef I. Abramowitz, said in a release over the weekend.
He added, “We are prepared to finance and build the first National Demonstration Solar Projects in all ECOWAS-affiliated countries in order to promote political stability and social and economic development, as well as to advance knowledge transfer.”
Energiya Global already has a history of developing solar energy plants on the continent. The company and its associated companies developed the first commercial scale solar field in sub-Sahara Africa in Rwanda, which is supplying 6% of the country’s power, and the group broke ground on a similar power plant in Burundi, which will supply 15% of the country’s power by the end of the year.
The solar group has fields at various stages of development in ten African countries and expects to announce its full program at the Israel-Africa Summit in Togo at the end of October, Israeli authorities said.
“With 600 million Africans without electricity, the State of Israel can literally help African heads of state bring power to the African people,” says a member of Knesset, Avraham Neguise, chairman of the Israel-Africa Caucus of the Israeli Parliament, who accompanied the Prime Minister, according to a release.
“Our humanitarian and diplomatic goals are supported by the private sector as well, which can work quickly and efficiently to improve the lives of millions of people. I want to thank my friend Yosef Abramowitz for his investments in solar in Africa. We look forward to working with ECOWAS to deploy $1 billion over the next four years, starting with this first investment of $20 million in Liberia by Energiya Global.”
A working session between ECOWAS, representatives of the State of Israel and Abramowitz will take place this morning in Monrovia, to plan for the deployment of the green energy investments in fulfillment of the MOU signed by Prime Minister Netanyahu and the President of ECOWAS.
Energiya Global is a renewable energy company and impact platform that brings new sources of power and social development to Africa and other emerging markets. Led by a team of seasoned project developers, financiers, and solar energy experts, the Jerusalem-based company develops renewable energy installations (solar, wind and hydro).