Building bridges to Africa
A delegation of academics, businesspeople and policymakers, led by the president of TAU, attended the second Africa-Israel Forum
Following the success of the India-Israel Forum, founded by Tel Aviv University and successfully operating for a decade, and the China-Israel Innovation Forum set up two years ago, a delegation of 20 academics, businesspeople and policy makers led by TAU President Joseph Klafter attended a meeting of the Africa-Israel Forum held in Abeokuta, Nigeria. The Forum was launched last year on the Tel Aviv University campus.
The Nigeria summit, dedicated to technology in agriculture, was hosted by former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo at his Presidential Library. It was held by TAU in partnership with the Brenthurst Foundation, Volcani Institute, Israel Innovation Authority, AJC Africa Institute and the Agriculture Research Institute (ARO) of Israel.
Discussions centered on areas where Israel can contribute to Africa's development and growth, especially in agri-tech, food security, innovation and entrepreneurship. For example, Dr. Ram Fishman of TAU’s Department of Public Policy presented a working model in India, supported by Tata Trusts, that helps bring modern technological agricultural practices to smallholder farms in isolated rural areas. A member of TAU’s Boris Mints Institute for Strategic Policy Solutions to Global Challenges, Dr. Fishman suggested that this model could be adapted to Africa and could involve TAU master’s and doctoral students. Other sessions showcased Israeli startups that harness digital technologies to help farmers, and the various collaborative tools developed by the Israel Innovation Authority for building up relations with Africa.
Among the delegates were two Nigerian alumni of TAU, Endurance Ojo and Tony Bawo Esimaje, graduates of the Manna International MSc Program in Plant Sciences with Emphasis in Food Safety and Security. The program has trained so far 35 African students from 7 additional countries – Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Zimbabwe, Rwanda and Liberia, said Prof. Nir Ohad, Head of the Manna Center for Food Security at TAU.
The event received the active help and support of attendees Eytan Stibbe of Vital Capital and Stanley and Dr. Marion Bergman. African delegates included the Vice President of Malawi, Saulos Chilima; Finance Minister of Lesotho, Dr. Moeketsi Majoro; and senior officials, bankers and entrepreneurs from across Africa.
In his greetings at the conference, TAU President Klafter said that "As Israel's largest and most influential research university, we are proud to play a role in global outreach initiatives. We have tremendous resources that can be brought to bear on these efforts – a large pool of expertise, strengths in both basic and applied research, a robust innovation environment, diverse teaching programs, and extensive links with industry and government. All these resources can be mined now for expanding Africa links.”