A Paper Presented By Dr Bolaji O. Akinyemi at the African Leadership Summit; Jerusalem 2023. Ramada Hotel, 6 Ze’ev Vilany Street, Jerusalem. On the 1st of August 2023.
Preamble: Israel is a nation we can better describe as SMALL but mighty and Nigeria in contrast is a big but feeble nation.
What is the secret of this small but mighty nation and what are the reasons for a big but yet feeble nation?
Our Approach: We are going to look at these two countries in contrast. To place the big beside the small and create a highway between the two for mutual benefits.
Yes! Mutual, you heard right, our big size can serve Israeli and other international investors who are here. And the flow from the strength of the small can change the story of our feebleness into strength.
Building a highway of businesses between Israel and Nigeria suggests to me that there is a way between the two but it is narrow and therefore is limiting the flow of trade and business opportunity between Nigeria and Israel.
The question is why is this so and why have successive governments not made an attempt to better the bilateral relationship between Israel and Nigeria?
Problem of Perception:
Perception is key to productivity. How we see things and see each other will engender unity or disunity towards a course. The perception of Israel as a Christian nation by an average Nigerian and Nigeria as an Islamic nation by an average Israeli is grossly responsible for our failure, particularly on the side of Nigeria to take advantage of all opportunities that Israel has to offer us.
Israel is not a Christian nation, not even an average Israeli will agree to the concept of his/her nation been referred to as a Christian nation. Israel is the nation of God, a covenant people!
Nigeria is a secular state, that much about us our constitution clearly states. Though some elements in public governance will prefer the misrepresentation of our nation as an Islamic nation to subsist.
There are 5 areas of businesses that this paper will accommodate between Israel and Nigeria. Though four (4) will apply to all states in Nigeria. I will mention a few but will specifically call on Taraba State to take advantage of them. Defence, the last, is not a business per say but since it is under exclusivity of federal jurisdiction, our national government will be called up on this.
The first 4 are: Agriculture, Innovation, Energy and Education.
Though ALS should continue to encourage tours to Israel by all African States, but beyond the tour is the need to encourage bilateral trade development between our Continent and the Nation of Israel. Nigeria for example must change the narrative that has widened the gap between her and Israel and build bridges across the gullies of religious sentiment that has frittered away mutual opportunities to both countries.
In practical contrast; Israel’s land mass is 22,145 square kilometers?
Nigeria’s land mass is 923,768 square kilometers. We have seen productive partnerships between Kebbi State and Lagos State in the production of Lake Rice. Lagos with a land mass of just 3,577 KM² and over 20million mouths to feed went into partnership with Kebbi with a population of 5,563,900 and land mass of 32,800 KM². Though the sustainability of this partnership is questionable. But the model can be replicated at an international level between “small” Israel with means and “big” Nigeria with land and labour to contribute to the feeding of the close to 8 billion world population who are threatened by hunger more than any other calamity in human history.
Water is a necessity for productivity in Agriculture and that, God has blessed Nigeria with more than Israel.
With an average of 400MM rainfall annually, Israel has an export earning of $143.05 billion per annum with the aid of a technology called Precision Agriculture which enables the sparse rain water to be stored, measured and distributed to each crops on the field according to their water requirements!
Nigeria is almost 42 times the size of Israel with an annual rainfall of 1,165 MM but with unfortunate agricultural earnings of $1.2 billion!
With land in abundance and more than enough rainfall, meeting up with local needs of “agbado” and cassava, apology to our present President, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu who must be encouraged to see the need for improve bilateral relations between Nigeria and Israel to drive hunger far from being our problem!
Our problem is how to, like Israel deploy technology to mechanize and maximize productivity. We must further deploy technology to storage of agricultural produce and products. These are lessons we are here to take away from ALS Jerusalem 2023 to the continent of Africa, Nigeria in particular and Taraba State to be specific.
If we factor the indices of land and water, and embrace technology like Israel, our earnings will move from a paltry $1.2 billion to about $6 trillion!
The margin between $1.2 billion and $6 trillion is right there on the highway of businesses we haven’t built and leadership we are yet to find. Our present leaders can only be the saviours we need if bilateral trade is prioritized based on our need and not based on global politics and sentiment. This is the only way to unleash our greatness upon the world!
Taraba State, North East Nigeria is a state with rich soil, beautiful topography and lovely weather that can make Israeli farmers and other international investors in Agriculture have a feel of home away from home. The state has a land mass of 54,473 KM². If Israel’s model of Agriculture is adopted by Taraba State, earn-able income by the state will be $35,762.5 billion annually. This is achievable within an 8 year projection plan.
Let me encourage participants at ALS to ask needed questions such as why Israel is better in Agriculture when all factors of higher productivity in the sector are naturally to the advantage of our Continent. We have more land, more rainfall and more labour! The answer to this is Innovation. How innovative have we been in Agriculture.
The world started off its developmental drive from Agriculture and moved on to witness different phases of development of the global economy.
Innovation or Tech age is where we are. To make the best of anything we must be innovative and tech savvy. This is where the strength lies. The reason a dot (Israel) in the circle hasn’t been consumed by the circle, (Middle East).
The first four biggest companies in Israel are Tech. The fifth and sixth are banks, one of the Banks supervised the birthing of modern Israel. Until we have financial institutions designed with our need in mind and harbours our interest, our Continent will live cap in hands before the rest of the world. Arab Banks are competing with Anglo Banks in the continent without Banks of African ideology and design in the financial space. There is a United Bank for Africa, driven for profit more that an ideological commitment to the unity and prosperity of the African States.
Lessons from corporate Israel.
IMF and World Bank are what they are, International in focus and world in operation. An international concepts of monetary management can serve the need of local African companies and communities. Nor will a Bank that is first world in thinking and model help a continent that is third world in reality.
We need to get our financial system up for nothing but our vision:
Bank Leumi is an Israeli bank. It was founded on February 27, 1902, in Jaffa as the Anglo Palestine Company as subsidiary of the Jewish Colonial Trust (Jüdische Kolonialbank) Limited: p.19 formed before in London by members of the Zionist movement to promote the industry, construction, agriculture, and infrastructure of the land hoped to ultimately become Israel. Today, Bank Leumi is Israel’s largest bank (by total assets as of 2015), with overseas offices in Luxembourg,US, Switzerland, the UK, Mexico, Uruguay, Romania, Jersey, and China.
Though nationalized in 1981, now Bank Leumi is mainly in private hands, with the government as the largest single shareholder, with 14.8% of the stock (as of June 2006). The other major shareholders are Shlomo Eliyahu and Branea Invest, which each hold 10% of the stock, constituting the control core of the bank. Sixty percent of the bank’s stocks are held by the public and traded on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange.
Tech Security: Cyber security is at the heart of existence in this age and time:
Check Point is an American-Israeli multinational provider of software and combined hardware and software products for IT security, including network security, endpoint security, cloud security, mobile security, data security and security management. As of 2021, the company has approximately 6,000 employees worldwide. Headquartered in Tel Aviv, Israel and San Carlos, California, the company has development centers in Israel and Belarus and previously held in the United States (ZoneAlarm), Sweden (former Protect Data development centre) following acquisitions of companies who owned these centers. The company has offices in over 70 locations worldwide including main offices in North America, 10 in the United States (including in San Carlos, California and Dallas, Texas), 4 in Canada (including Ottawa, Ontario) as well as in Europe (London, Paris, Munich, Madrid) and in Asia Pacific (Singapore, Japan, Bengaluru, Sydney).
Health they say is wealth. The drive for healthy population is the first step towards increased productivity:
Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. (also known as Teva Pharmaceuticals) is an Israeli multinational pharmaceutical company with headquarters in Tel Aviv, Israel. It specializes primarily in generic drugs(please, note the word generic), but other business interests include active pharmaceutical ingredients and, to a lesser extent, proprietary,(what is proprietary) pharmaceuticals. Teva Pharmaceuticals was the largest generic drug manufacturer, when it was surpassed briefly by US-based Pfizer. Teva regained its market leader position once Pfizer spunned off its generic drug division in a merger with Mylan, forming the new company Viatris at the end of 2020. Overall, Teva is the 18th largest pharmaceutical company in the world.
Teva’s facilities are located in Israel, North America, Europe, Australia, and South America. Teva shares are listed on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange. The company is a member of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA). GlaxoSmithKline leaving Nigeria at this time is not a good sign at all.
Industry driven by Innovation and Tech is the strength of agriculture as with every sectors:
ICL Group Ltd. (formerly Israel Chemicals Ltd., ICL) is a multi-national manufacturing concern that develops, produces and markets fertilizers, metals and other special-purpose chemical products. ICL serves primarily three markets: agriculture, food and engineered materials. ICL produces approximately a third of the world’s bromine, and is the world’s sixth-largest potash producer. It is a manufacturer of specialty fertilizers and specialty phosphates, flame retardants and water treatment solutions.
ICL is majority controlled by the Israel Corporation, one of the largest Israeli conglomerates. In addition to the Dead Sea Works, Israel Chemicals mines phosphates in the Negev desert.
Most energy in Israel comes from fossil fuels. The country’s total primary energy demand is significantly higher than its total primary energy production, relying heavily on imports to meet its energy needs. Total primary energy consumption was 304 Tera-watt hours TWh in 2016, or 26.2 million tonnes of oil equivalent.
Electricity consumption in Israel was 57,149 Giga watt hours (GWh) in 2017, while production was 64,675 GWh, with net exports of 4.94 TWh. The installed generating capacity was about 16.25 GW in 2014, almost all from fossil fuel power stations, mostly coal and gas fueled. Renewable energy accounted for a minor share of electricity production, with a small solar photovoltaic installed capacity. However, there are a total of over 1.3 million solar water heaters installed as a result of mandatory solar water heating regulations.
In 2018, 70% of electricity came from natural gas, and 4% from renewables, of which 95% was solar PV.
In 2020, the government committed that by 2030, renewables should reach 30%. This target was further revised in 2021, when Israel pledged at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) to phasing out coal for energy generation by 2025, and reaching net zero for greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
There is no sentiment in solutioneering! It can only be supplied by those who have it.
Egypt is the second-largest natural gas producer in North Africa. In 2005 Egypt signed a 2.5 billion-dollar deal to supply Israel with 57 billion cubic feet of gas per year for fifteen years. Under this arrangement, Egypt supplies 40 percent of Israel’s natural gas demand. Without the sentiment of the story of Moses and Pharaoh standing in their way. We must stop telling the story of Azikiwe, Bello and Awolowo if Nigeria must grow.
The Israeli Electric Corporation (IEC) controls more than 95% of the electricity sector in Israel, and controls production, distribution, and transmission of electricity. The IEC has a natural gas distribution law which regulates the distribution of natural gas in Israel to empower market competition.
The discoveries of the Tamar gas field in 2009 and the Leviathan gas field in 2010 off the coast of Israel were important. The natural gas reserves in these two fields (Leviathan has around 19 trillion cubic feet) could make Israel more energy secure. In 2013 Israel began commercial production of natural gas from the Tamar field and in 2019 from Leviathan. As of 2017, even by conservative estimates, Leviathan holds enough gas to meet Israel’s domestic needs for 40 years.
In addition, the Karish gas field started production in 2022 after Israel reached an agreement with Lebanon that ended a maritime border dispute between the two.
Israel is one of the world leaders in the use of solar thermal energy per capita. Since the early 1990s, all new residential buildings have been required by the government to install solar water-heating systems, and Israel’s National Infrastructure Ministry estimates that solar panels for water-heating satisfy 4% of the country’s total energy demand. Israel and Cyprus are the per-capita leaders in the use of solar hot water systems with over 90% of homes using them. The Ministry of National Infrastructures estimates solar water heating saves Israel 2 million barrels (320,000 cubic metres) of oil a year.
What lessons are you taking home for an energy revolution in your country? Preservation of our cultural heritage and value must be protected in our drive for knowledge through education. How do we maintain our uniqueness as people of worth and value if our civilization is eroded for foreign civilization. Israel seems to be the most less distractive environment for learning for young African minds, without the temptation of cultism and lewd living. It offers education at it best. We must explore schools in Israel to serve the needs of today’s young Africans.
Education: Preservation of our cultural heritage and value must be protected in our drive for knowledge through education. How do we maintain our uniqueness as people of worth and value if our civilization is eroded for foreign civilization. Israel seems to be the most less distractive environment for learning for young African minds, without the temptation of cultism and lewd living. It offers education at it best. We must explore schools in Israel to serve the needs of today’s young Africans.
The fourth which is exclusively the responsibility of the Federal Government is defence and security.
Terror is a global threat, a confrontation of international interest. But there are two nations with extreme exposure to terror that have found a pragmatic way of dealing with it and subsuming terror organisations to the supremacy of their sovereignty. One is an Islamic nation, which Egypt. So in a way it will be wrong to conclude that terror is Islamic and Islamic is terror. This separation Egypt has successfully placed before us.
Israel a nation that has lived perpetually with terror and is triumphing through it through their defence structure. From Egypt and Israel Nigeria must learn how to effectively deal with the rising cases of terror organisations that have recently become part of our national experience. This phenomenon is not about to go away except we are determined to do whatever it will take to quash it. In the pride of sovereignty lies the strength to end internal insurrection and conquer external aggression, this is the critical need of our military officers and army. Military training exchange programmes with Egypt and specifically with Israel will help our Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to fulfil is promise to put an end to insurrection and terrorism.
Thank you for listening.