This article was first published by The Times of Israel and was re-posted with permission.
Israel and the US are scheduled to sign a memorandum of understanding next week that will see Israel join the Power Africa initiative, an international program led by the US that aims to connect 60 million households in Africa to the electricity grid by 2030.
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Being part of the program will enable Israeli energy firms, including startups, to make use of the tools provided by Power Africa to promote electricity generation projects on the continent, and could lead “to billions of dollars of deal-flow for Israeli firms,” according to Israeli solar energy pioneer Yosef Abramowitz, whose firm, Energiya Global Capital is one of the founding partners of Power Africa. Energiya is already working with the US and Israeli government to deploy $2 billion in solar and wind installations in 10 countries in Africa over the next five years.
Following the agreement, Israeli companies will be able to take part in the Power Africa initiative, and will receive a diverse toolbox to promote electricity generation, including increased access to local government bodies, financial grants, contacts with financing entities, professional and legal advice and feasibility surveys.
“Israel is becoming a partner in one of the biggest aid programs available today, and this initiative is a result of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s policy to leverage Israeli ingenuity to strengthen diplomatic ties,”said Eli Groner, the director general at Israel’s Prime Minister’s Office, who will sign the agreement on December 4 in Jerusalem together with the US Agency for International Development (USAID). Joining Power Africa “is the manifestation of our unparalleled relationship with the US, assisting in the deepening of our ties with African nations.”
Prime Minister Netanyahu in July 2016 became the first Israeli premier in decades to travel to the continent, when he visited four East African nations: Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda and Ethiopia in a bid to forge closer ties with the Africa. On Tuesday Netanyahu left for Kenya, for an official visit that will include meetings with 11 African leaders.
The purpose of the one-day trip to Nairobi, Netanyahu said before boarding the plane, “is to deepen [Israel’s] ties with Africa, including by establishing connections with nations with which we do not have diplomatic relations.”
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