FILE - Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn
CAIRO – 5 January 2018: Amid the current tense relations between Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan regarding the Renaissance Dam negotiations, Israel decided to increase its investments in Addis Ababa in the energy field to reach $500 million.
According to the state-owned Ethiopian news agency ENA on Friday, Israeli company Giga-watt Global announced that they are interested in investing about $500 million in Ethiopia in renewable energy and human resource development inside the country.
Giga-watt Global CEO, Josef I. Abramowitz, announced that he met with Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn alongside other Israeli companies to discuss the project’s details. He added that his company, which is specialized in solar and wind power, has planned to work with ten Ethiopian Universities.
“The company has already concluded an agreement with three universities; Debretabor, Jigjiga and Mekele, for the training of the engineers, and consultation is going on with the other universities to reach similar stages,” Abramowitz said.
Commenting on the announced ambitious deal, Raphael Morav, ambassador of Israel to Ethiopia said that his country believes that there are good investment opportunities in Africa.
“However, there are also some challenges in the activities here so we thought it was important to raise the issues with the prime minister and I have to say that we had a very frank and direct conversation. The prime minister gave answers to all the questions and the issues that were raised and I think that would give a good way to go ahead,” Morav added according to ENA.
The Israeli ambassador also said that his country is interested in translating “the excellent political relations between the two countries into economic benefits.”
Giga-watt Global was just one company among 10 other Israeli organizations that discussed with the Ethiopian prime minister the business opportunities and investment atmosphere in several fields including energy development, human resource development, education, potable water and agriculture.
Parliamentarian Ahmed al-Awadi commented in statements to Egypt Today that Israeli’s interests to expand its investments in Africa during the past period raises a lot of doubt, especially since Israel is considered one of the countries supporting the Renaissance Dam construction.
“Israel has intensified its investments in all of Africa during the past period; especially in the Nile Basin countries,” Awadi said. He explained that the reason behind this expansion is to strengthen its influence in the region.
He feared that Israel might use these influences later to affect Egypt’s interests including supporting the dam’s construction and the whole state’s share from the Nile.
This, however, was not the first move inside Africa that raised Egypt’s doubts regarding influencing its interests in the region.
Last December, a tripartite meeting between Turkish, Sudanese and Qatari army chiefs took place in Khartoum. This meeting came on the sidelines of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s visit to Sudan, in which he received the responsibility of managing Suakin Island for an undetermined period of time.
Several Gulf media outlets questioned the intentions of the meeting and its timing. Sky News said that it is normal for the Sudanese and Turkish officials to meet in conjunction with Erdoğan's visit, but with Qatari presence, a lot of doubts and fears started to rise.
Egypt and Sudan’s straining relation did not come as a result of the dam’s negations only, but also as a result of the dispute over the sovereignty of the Hala’ib Triangle.
Since May 2011, Cairo has voiced its concern over how the dam can reduce the country’s annual share of more than 56 billion cubic meters of the Nile’s water. Egypt’s average water per capita is expected to drop from 663 cubic meters per year to 582 cubic meters by 2025, according to the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS). However, Addis Ababa claimed that the dam is necessary for Ethiopia’s development and will not harm downstream countries.