Sharon Bar-Li, Deputy Director General, African Department, Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs
By Lizzy Okoji
The State of Israel has reaffirmed its commitment to help Nigeria boost its technology, innovative sectors and foster entrepreneurship among youth to boost the nation’s economy.
Some Israeli Foreign Ministry officials made this known during meetings with a delegation of Nigerian journalists on a tour of Israel on Tuesday in Jerusalem.
They said that Israel is known for its high technology, innovation that it successfully used to transform their nation into a developed nation, regardless of its many challenges.
Sharon Bar-Li, Deputy Director General of the African Department of the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that Israel’s goal is to transfer knowledge to a society and ensure the sustainability of such programs by training and empowering local partners.
“We have continued to work with African countries by making Israeli technology available.
“Here, it’s not really about the know-how, the knowledge transfer, the technology transfer, but the idea of working with Israel is about doing because we have the experience.
“Just a few years ago we were a developing country and therefore we are in a very good position to work together with your countries.
“One of the fields that Israel has decided to dominate, and if it likes to use as a spearhead in its activities in African countries, is around a sector of innovation and entrepreneurship.
“Israel describes itself as the emerging nation, the country of innovation. This concern that we have is the key driver of innovation.
“Although the traditional sectors of agriculture, water and health are still very relevant when working with African countries, we have found that many African countries have business elements where Israel and Israel can naturally connect.
“And this is where we identified a good area, a common denominator where we can work together,” Bar Li said.
Bar-Li said that one of Israel’s sustainable development programs in Africa is the establishment of its Development Agency, the MASHAV Innovative Center (Innov-Hub) in Abuja for aspiring researchers.
She said that Israel will replicate the innovative center for young entrepreneurs in each African capital country where it has a Mission.
She said the policy is geared towards entrepreneurship and innovation touching different fields in so many different sectors to create cohorts of young entrepreneurs and a network that can contribute to their economy, their communities, with Israel’s support.
“This is the direction we have been taking in recent years in Africa, the MASHAV laboratory on the outskirts of Abuja.
“After the success, we emulated and established one in Accra and now we are looking to put another one in Dakar Senegal.
“And the vision is to have such centers of excellence and innovations in each of the countries where we have an Embassy,” Bar-Li said.
Mr. Emmanuel Nachshon, Deputy Director General for Public Diplomacy at the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that Israel has specialists who go to different parts of the world and help them build a better economy.
He explained that what makes the Israeli philosophy very special compared to other countries is that they come to build projects that people can understand, train them to be dependent and not dependent on them.
“What we are looking for are alliances in which local people are part of the project. That they are not mere recipients of the projects because that is the only way to make it work.
“If you are a rich country, the easiest thing to say is that I will buy fish from them, but it is a big mistake because if you buy fish from them, people will not fish themselves.
“So what you need to do is help them create better food sources to catch those fish and that’s what we try to do.
“What is unique about Israel is that we don’t have a colonial past, so that means we come with clean hands. These results are successful and contribute to humanity,” said Nachshon.
Ambassador Eynat Shlein, Deputy Director of MASHAV, said that MASAHAV’s activities are visible in Nigeria with more projects and programs facilitated by MASHAV.
“We have worked in Nigeria on various projects in recent years. I hope you have heard about the I fair, the innovation workshop that is taking place for the third year.
“There were many participants in the training that is being held for the third time and it is a very successful model.
“The Israeli government joins hands with the Israeli private sector and of course with Nigerian partners and offers innovative training for young Nigerians. More training collaborations in the coming years,” Shlein said. (NAN) (www.nannews.ng)
Edited by Sadiya Hamza