ON THE OCCASION OF THE 73nd INDEPENDENCE DAY OF ISRAEL
On the occasion of the 73rd independence day of the State of Israel, I extend warm greetings from the Holy Land. This year, we have decided to celebrate through the publication of a special edition in the B&FT, branded “Doing Business with Israel”.
Although it is not our traditional reception due to the COVID-19 pandemic, I believe that in this supplement the readers will find out about prominent solutions Israel and Ghana can use in facing the challenges of the pandemic and the huge potential that both countries have in a business and governmental cooperation.
In the last two and a half years I have spent in Ghana, I have heard a lot of people claiming that Israel can contribute to Ghana more than Ghana can contribute to Israel. I did my best to persuade them that this is a misconception: Ghana has a huge value for Israel, and economy is one of the main sectors for that.
Ghana was set as a priority country in the Israeli Economic and Development policy because of its huge economic potential, its stability and democracy, the dominant role of the civil society and the freedom of the press. Opening in Accra the only Trade and Economic Mission in West Africa is a clear sign for our genuine intentions.
In this new decade, it is time to increase the trade volume between Israel and Ghana, to open both markets for unique commodities and services of the countries and to promote investments. In order to do so, most of the Israeli business people have to learn a lot about the West African market, and Ghana is a very good gateway for understanding the priorities of businesses in West Africa, seeking the best practices and finding business partners.
Ghana 2021 stands for potential and ripeness for business. While the COVID19 crisis taught us that Ghana is a resilient country, presenting a very good alternative for the Asian countries, the AfCFTA adds another layer of opportunity to invest in the country especially when considering the fact that the majority of the labour force in the world will be concentrated in Africa in the next half century. Together, Israel and Ghana can take advantage of this potential and make it a reality.
The State of Israel is a small miracle. 11.5 times smaller than Ghana, arid and hot, it quickly transformed into an international agriculture pivot and then an international innovation centre. The transformation process from a developing country to a developed one was long and challenging. We had to reinvent ourselves again and again, to restart each time we failed, but we didn’t stop and in 2010, we joined the OECD.
During this process, as a low income country ourselves, we never stopped sharing our knowledge and expertise with our good friend Ghana. MASHAV, the Israeli International Agency for Cooperation Development that was born in Ghana in 1958, trained thousands of Ghanaians through the years in many sectors: Agriculture, Gender Empowerment, Entrepreneurship, Renewable Energy, Education and more.
The relations between Israel and Ghana are based on mutual understanding and joint values, on respect to tradition with a spirit of innovation and a spiritual connection between the people. I am proud to see organizations such as the Ghana-Israel Business Chamber and the newly established Ghana-Israel Friendship Association working tirelessly to make our relations even stronger.
In spite of the difficulties, a lot was done last year in the framework of relations between Israel and Ghana. In the Agriculture sector, Israel continues to train agricultural students for practical training in the “Agrostudies” program. In innovation we have held the trilateral cooperation Innovation for Development, a yearlong program that aims at strengthening the innovation ecosystem in Ghana. We also had the second edition of the Israel Green Innovation Competition for Start-ups bringing solutions to agriculture challenges in Ghana.
MASHAV continued its capacity building programs in on-line courses focused on education and disadvantaged communities in corona era and other initiatives in areas such as National Security and Resilience, and a parliamentary digitization program. Naturally, the health sector received a big attention, with support given to the two Mother and Baby Units in Kumasi South and Suntreso hospitals as well as a grant to open a second mobile clinic unit in the Ashanti region. Other grants were awarded to support entrepreneurs in the fields of Agriculture and Innovation.
The level of trade and economic exchange between our countries keeps growing and our Trade and Economic Mission is encouraging more investments and more business relations between both countries in Agriculture, Innovation, Cyber Security, Water and Health.
In these times, I would like to specially thank all my staff at the Embassy of Israel who have been supportive and dedicated to their work. They have worked and are still working to strengthen the relations between Israel and Ghana for the sake of all of us. It is thanks to them that the bond between the people of faith and the children of Israel is more solid than ever.
Long live Israel-Ghana relations!