A new agreement signed Monday in Jerusalem between the United States and Israel is helping to provide energy needs for tens of millions in sub-Saharan Africa, making the prophesy in Isaiah 49:6 – that Israel will be a “light to the nations” – come to life in a new way.
While Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke to Israeli, American and African diplomats at the signing ceremony between his office and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), he proclaimed Israel’s new role in shining new light in previously dark regions of Africa.
"This is bringing light," Netanyahu declared, according to CBN News. "Every time an African mother will turn on the light or turn on a heater for some water for her children, part of Israel will be there."
Meeting needs never met before
David Friedman – who President Donald Trump personally appointed as America’s Ambassador to Israel – noted the dire energy needs that are now going to be met in struggling parts of the supercontinent.
"Recognizing that two-thirds of those living in sub-Saharan Africa lacked access to electricity, 'Power Africa’ was launched in 2013 to create 60 million new electricity connections and 30,000 megawatts (MW) of new power generation," Friedman informed those in attendance, reported CBN News.
After signing the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), Friedman boasted about the bonding of great minds in the effort.
"This partnership will leverage cutting-edge technical expertise from the U.S. and Israel, thanks to our innovative private companies who are motivated to work with our governments to accelerate Africa's development – particularly in the energy sector," the pro-Israel official from the Trump administration informed, according to a USAID press release.
The new partnership was also celebrated by the director-general of the Israeli prime minister’s office, Eli Groner.
“The U.S.-Israel relationship is based on shared values and aligned interests,” Groner insisted in a statement quoted in the USAID release. “This is yet another manifestation of our collaboration to make the world a better place.”
This alliance between Israeli and American governments to assist those in need in Africa did not exist during the Obama administration, when the longstanding partnership between the two nations was strained – at best.
“Both Israel and the U.S. have been working separately in Africa for years,” CBN News pointed out. “But the new partnership is expected to enable Israeli companies to access American government agencies providing grants, ties with financing entities and professional and legal counsel and have benefits for the U.S., too.”
The aid effort requires both nations to glean from each other’s expertise to bring large regions of Africa into the 21st century.
"Today 'Power Africa' welcomes Israel as its developing partner,” Friedman announced. “[O]ur governments will work together to identify opportunities to leverage the Israeli private sector's engineering and technological expertise to achieve the goals of 'Power Africa' to deliver energy efficiently and cost effectively.”
Reconnecting to the south
Eager to restore ties to African nations – a bond that had been derailed in recent decades – Netanyahu indicated that the new partnership works to make the vision of an enlivened relationship with those countries a reality. He has also endeavored to make this come about through recent meetings with key leadership in the region.
“The prime minister has visited Africa three times over the past year and a half, including a trip last week in which he met with more than 10 African leaders,” CBN News’ Julie Stahl reported. “He said then that Israel's intention was ‘to deepen ties with Africa’ by forging ties with countries with which Israel has no diplomatic relations.”
Evidence of the dynamic relationship between Israel and Africa was presented to those at the Jerusalem meeting by Netanyahu, who noted the results of an online survey of 54 nations that revealed Africa’s people – not just its governments – truly value Israel as an ally.
"They recognize the benefit of partnering with Israel – and that's a tremendous development," the Israeli leader stressed. "What people understand is that cooperation with Israel – just as it helped agriculture in Africa in the 60s – can now help every realm of life in the beginning of the 21st century."
At the end of the meeting, Friedman alluded to the biblical significance to what was taking place.
"As the prophet Isaiah says, Israel is a light unto the nations," Friedman concluded.
Besides American and Israeli governments, other partners from around the globe are helping to bring light to Africa.
“Power Africa is one of the largest public-private partnerships in development history, with more than $54 billion of commitments from its more than 150 public- and private-sector partners,” USAID divulged on its website. “It is laying the foundation for sustainable economic growth in Africa, while also providing expanded economic opportunities for American taxpayers, workers and businesses.”
Even though the American-Israeli partnership in Power Africa is in its developing stages, the international project has already made substantial progress.
“To date, Power Africa and its partners have helped 84 power projects, comprising more than 7,300 megawatts (MW) reach financial close with a total investment of more than $14 billion,” USAID noted. “Nearly three-quarters of the 84 projects use renewables, 60 percent of the MW achieved are from natural gas, [and] over 2,000 MW are already operational. Power Africa has helped add 10.6 million connections to off-grid, micro-grid, and central grid solutions, which has enabled tens of millions of people gain access to electricity for the very first time.”