World Jewish News
Africa-Israel summit due to be held in October has been postponed
11.09.2017, Israel and the World
An Africa-Israel summit, which was due to take place next month in Lomé, Togo, has been postponed at the request of the President of Togo, Faure Gnassingbé, and after mutual consultations with Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli foreign ministry announced.
The summit was due take place from October 16 to 20 and expected to be attended by dozens of African countries. It was due to focus on security, counter-terrorism, economic ties and cooperation in the fields of agriculture, health and education as well as new technology.
No new date has been set yet. ‘’In the near future, Israel will hold consultations in Africa, both on the bilateral level as well as in regional gatherings and fora on the continent in order to guarantee the full success of the summit,’’ the Israeli foreign ministry said.
It added that an agreed upon date would be set later by both countries.
The Togolese President thanked and praised the Israeli Prime Minister ‘’for his determination to strengthen the cooperation between his country and Israel, as well as for his personal engagement to guarantee the initiative to hold the summit,” the foreign ministry said.
Gnassingbé “also emphasized that this event aims to unite the efforts undertaken against the threat on peace and security, which undermines stability and slows down the development of the continent.
Togo is among Israel’s closest friends in Africa, with Togolese President Faure Gnassingbe having visited here three times since 2012.
Israel currently has diplomatic ties with 40 of the 48 sub-Saharan states.
Over the last few years, Israel has shown renewed interest in Africa, after the extensive ties that developed in the 1960s had crumbled.
The importance of Africa for Israel is in three main areas. The first is political-diplomatic and the African nations are seen as a critical voting bloc that could prevent anti-Israel resolutions at the United Nations and other international forums. Although the African nations usually vote in a bloc, following the decisions of the African Union, there have been recent instances of schisms within the bloc.
Currently Israel has 10 permanent diplomatic missions in Africa: South Africa, Kenya, Nigeria, Cameroon, Angola, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Ghana, Ivory Coast and Senegal. Its other representatives in Africa are non-resident.
African nations have 15 diplomatic missions in Israel.
The second area is economic. Africa is considered by Israel, as it is by the rest of the world, to be a potentially huge export market. So far Israel has barely tapped this emerging market. Trade between Israel and the continent of Africa is a mere $1 billion annually, two-thirds of which comes from trade between Israel and South Africa, mainly in diamonds.
Africa’s third area of importance to Israel is strategic and military, but the extent here is very small.
Israel said ''it is fully committed to continue its efforts vis a vis the African continent as it has been doing during these last years, as demonstrated by the visit of the Prime Minister in the summer of 2016 to Rwanda, Kenya, Uganda an Ethiopia as well as his participation as a guest of honor in the ECOWAS Summit in Liberia in June 2017.''
''Israel believes that the African countries and Israel can only benefit from the continuation of practical cooperation between the two sides, and this in important areas such as water, agriculture, health and technology,'' the foreign ministry in Jerusalem said.