Central bank governors from six emerging African nations including, Uganda, Swaziland, Ghana, Kenya, South Sudan and Equatorial Guinea wrapped up an intensive week of meetings with high-ranking Israeli government officials, as well as banking and financial leaders in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv on Thursday, as part of an effort to forge closer economic ties between Israel and emerging African countries.
The bank governors came to Israel (on June 17), as part of the "Africa's Voices in Israel" inaugural mission, which was led by prominent New York businessman, Michael Landau and sponsored by the IDT Corporation (NYSE).
During a meeting earlier this week with Israel's Deputy Minister of Finance, Yitzhak Cohen, Professor Martin Dlamini, Central Bank Governor of Swaziland encouraged on-going cooperation. "As we are an agriculturally dependent economy, it is important for us to meet with agricultural innovators in Israel and business people who would be willing to invest in developing our agricultural market.
Therefore, I am grateful to have received this invitation from Africa's Voices in Israel to strengthen the relationship between Israel, Swaziland and my African colleagues, by creating grassroots efforts in the fields of agriculture and finance, "said Professor Dlamini.
Professor Eugene Kandel, Head of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's National Economic Council told the group, "Israel has a track record of overcoming adversity and turning it into opportunity. We are a perfect model for developing countries in the areas of agriculture, banking security and water technology. Thus, we see Africa as a strategic opportunity for Israel."
Ron Dermer, Senior Advisor to PM Netanyahu stressed, "We hope that this mission will help forge a new set of alliances between Israel and Africa. For banks within developing countries, our expertise in cyber-security will allow you (African banks) to make a critical financial jump forward, while protecting your banking assets against cyber attacks."
Governor of the Bank of Israel, Professor Stanley Fischer, who was born in Africa (Zambia) and has maintained a long-standing friendship with Prof. Emmanuel Tumusiime-Mutebile, Governor, Central Bank of Uganda, explained that Israel has yielded consistent positive economic growth, at a time when Europe and the USA have experienced recession. "We are here to listen and offer our friendly advice to your banking systems, based on our various experiences, "said Fischer.
Prof. Tumusiime-Mutebile told Governor Fischer that it was in Uganda's interest that Israel and Uganda expand their cooperation in the banking, financial and agricultural arenas. Professor Tumusiime-Mutebile was especially keen on working with Israel's Volcani Agricultural Institute, whose cutting-edge scientists showed Prof. Tumusiime-Mutebile how to maximize the country's crop yields through advanced agricultural technologies, which would enable Uganda to feed more people, while saving the country significant amounts of money.
Said Mr. Landau, "These encounters enable Africa's Voices in Israel to foment a variety of important agricultural, business and financial opportunities for emerging African nations, who wish to tap into Israel's unique experiences. We expect that this mission will spur larger delegations of financial and business officials from countries across Africa to come aboard and create important bonds between Israel and their governments."
On Monday afternoon, the wives of several central bank governors, including Mrs. Betty Mutebile, visited the "Save A Child's Heart" home near Tel Aviv, where they encountered a number of African children, who are being treated for various heart ailments in nearby Wolfson Medical Center..
The "Save A Child's Heart" international humanitarian program, provides advanced pediatric cardiac care for children from developing countries who suffer from heart disease. To date, "Save a Child's Heart" has provided care to over 2, 800 children from Africa, Middle East, Asia and Europe.
Americas Voices in Israel & Africa's Voices in Israel are affiliate organizations of the President's Conference of Major American Jewish Organizations (New York) and are under the tutelage of President's Conference, Executive Vice Chairman, Malcolm Hoenlein, AVI Chairman, George Rohr and AVI Director, Irwin Katsof.