Israel is paying renewed attention to Africa over the last few years, not only as a diplomatic arena and an area of cooperation on security but also as an increasingly important market for its companies, with an emphasis on high-tech.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attended the West African economic community summit in Liberia over the weekend, less than a year after he toured East Africa, and he’s due to attend another summit in Togo before the end of the year.
While Netanyahu has said that he hopes improved relations with Africa will prop up Israel’s diplomatic position at international forums such as the United Nations, that effort seems to be supported by, and go hand in hand with, an economic drive. In Liberia, Israeli solar power company Energiya Global announced a $20 million investment in a new solar field to supply electricity.
Netanyahu last September also attended a special “Israeli technology and innovation for Africa” event at the UN in New York at which Israeli high-tech companies stalled out their wares in front of heads of states and other representatives.
Africa is expected to account for 50 percent of the world’s population growth through 2050, currently has the fastest growing middle class and saw an explosive 58 percent mobile broadband growth rate from 2015 to 2016, according to 2016 a PwC report entitled, Disrupting Africa: Riding the wave of the digital revolution.
Among the Israeli companies presenting in New York last year were life sciences firm MobileODT, which makes devices and networked solutions that allow medical diagnostics using mobile phones and Water-gen, which makes devices that literally make clean drinking water from the air. MobileODT is currently active in Africa while Water-gen sees great opportunities, with 40 percent of the population of sub-Saharan Africa living in water scarce environments.
MobileODT’s CEO and founder, Ariel Beery is enthusiastic about bringing his products to Africa. It started with largely aid-based projects, supported by the hospital systems his company does business with in the US and by local Rotary clubs and Save the Children but now he markets directly to African countries.
“I think there is an amazing range of opportunity, despite the fact that the market moves still a little bit slower than Western and Northern markets, the African continent is an exceptional place for companies to grow in,” says Beery. One of the continent’s advantages is that it is able to “leapfrog” to new technology because older, more established, and more expensive, systems are often not in place.
SOURCE: Ferry Biedermann