During a recent visit to Israel, President of Togo Faure Gnassingbé offered his nation’s capital Lomé as a host site for the 1st African-Israeli Security and Development summit, CP-Africa reports.
Gnassingbé traveled to Israel in early August, meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday, August 10. According to the Jerusalem Post the two leaders agreed “on the organization of an Israeli-African summit on ‘security and development’ to strengthen cooperation ties between Israel and Africa” during those talks.
“The people of Togo admire what Israel has achieved, an admiration shared by many nations in Africa and around the world,” Gnassingbé told Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, who was also present for the meeting. “This is not my first trip to Israel, yet on this trip I have visited a wide range of places across the country. I am moved and inspired anew by your infrastructure, and the growth I have seen, and I know this is not to be taken for granted.”
The Togolese president first visited Israel in 2012, according to the Jerusalem Post, which calls his nation “one of Israel’s strongest supporters in western Africa, as evidenced last September when it joined Rwanda, Kenya and Burundi as the other African states in supporting Israel at a key vote at the International Atomic Energy Agency.”
He reportedly sees the conference, which will likely be held in March or April 2017, as an opportunity for Togo to gain “credibility and influence in helping Israel come back to the entire region, not only on the political side, but on the business side as well.”
Netanyahu has similar goals. He just wrapped up a four-country tour of Africa in early July, which included a summit with “East African leaders from Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, Ethiopia Tanzania, South Sudan, and Zambia.” The Israeli Prime Minister reportedly wants to organize a similar summit among West African nations. He is expected to travel to Nigeria in November at the invitation of Marcel Alain de Souza, ECOWAS commissioner and Gnassingbé’s cousin.
According to Netanyahu, the African nations willing to partner with his country “see Israel and its technological capabilities as a major force, first of all, that could assist them in the war against radical Islam that is inundating all of Africa. They want to be close to us; they want our help.”
On the concerns that partnership with Israel may create security problems for Togo and the West African sub-region such as those that have struck Ivory Coast, Mali, Burkina Faso, and Nigeria, the Jerusalem Post quoted an anonymous source close to Gnassingbé: “Togo is a small country and is not getting billions of dollars from Saudi Arabia and Qatar. The Muslim population in the country is small and not active, so the political risk is low.”