Ghana’s leadership clout unquestionable — Former Israeli Ambassador

BY: Severious Kale-Dery
Mrs. Shani Cooper-Zubida
Mrs. Shani Cooper-Zubida

Ghana’s position as a regional leader in Africa is unquestionable, the outgone Israeli Ambassador to Ghana, Mrs. Shani Cooper-Zubida, has observed.

She said the positive experience with the COVID-19 pandemic, the re-election of Ghana for the ECOWAS chairmanship, the hosting of the secretariat of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and the election of Ghana to the UN Security Council were evidence of Ghana’s standing and appeal.

"This position is very important for Israel. Indeed, Ghana is a priority country to Israel, not only because of its economic growth or stable democracy, but also because of its regional political leadership in Africa," Mrs. Cooper-Zubida told the Daily Graphic in a pre-departure exclusive interview in Accra.

She expressed the hope that "Ghana will continue and get stronger within Africa and the world".

She said even though the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted her work, she believed that she had been able to solidify the relationship between Israel and Ghana, "and make Israel visible in Ghana".

"I am happy that I managed to increase the visibility of Ghana in Israel. Of course it was a joint work with the Ghanaian Ambassador to Israel, a very capable woman," she added.

She said by the end of her third year, there was a "massive growth" of Israeli companies interested in doing business in Ghana, adding that averagely, there was a request daily from a new Israeli company to have information on doing business in Ghana.

Business destinations

The ambassador said Ghana had become one of the best business destinations for the Israeli business community.

Mrs. Cooper-Zubida explained that even though there were other areas that the embassy channelled its resources, the focus was on agriculture, health and innovation.

She said she was able to establish a connection between the Ministry of Food and Agriculture and its counterpart in Israel for technology transfer, adding that currently, there was a specific national Ghanaian course for extension officers in Israel for Israeli officials to share their experience with them.

Mrs. Cooper-Zubida expressed concern that disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic had compelled the running of the course to go online currently, but expressed the hope and that it would impact positively on the Ghanaian extension service delivery.

She said Israel was ready to deploy its technology in agriculture in Ghana, citing Agritop Limited as one of such Israeli companies that had been in Ghana, rendering high tech irrigation technology for the Ghanaian government.

She hinted that some more Israeli agribusiness companies had expressed interest in deploying their technology in Ghana.

Investment forum

Mrs. Cooper-Zubida said, for instance, that the Israeli Trade and Economic Mission in Ghana, in partnership with the Israeli Export Institute, organised an investment forum for 30 top Ghanaian investment and business advisory companies in the agriculture and finance sectors to explore the opportunities of partnering those Israeli companies or doing business with them.

The embassy, she added, had established a neonatal centre and a mobile clinic, both in the Ashanti Region, and said they had been functioning well.

Mrs. Cooper-Zubida said arrangements had been concluded for a delegation of top senior officials from the innovation ecosystem in Ghana to visit Israel for a learning experience.

"This will be part of a two-year programme we have been doing on innovation for development in trying to promote coordination among the different stakeholders in innovation ecosystem here in Ghana in order to make sure that Ghana is the next Africa startup nation," she explained.

Mrs. Cooper-Zubida expressed delight that she was able to make a mark although she believed she could have done more had it not been the COVID-19 disruptions.

She expressed the hope that her successor would take over from where she left off to further deepen the relations between the two countries.