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Lenk looks at achievements in SA

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Israel’s exports to South Africa have grown tremendously over the last few years, with more irrigation equipment, more technology and more innovations from the “Startup Nation”, according to Israel’s Ambassador to South Africa Arthur Lenk at the last Yom Ha’atzmaut celebration he’ll host in South Africa before heading home.
by DIANE WOLFSON | May 11, 2017

His message was a positive one of how Israel has made the desert bloom and how the country is keen to share its success stories.

He told his guests - who included diplomats, representatives of the South African government and civil society, as well as Jewish and religious leaders - how hard his team had worked to promote trade and food security in South Africa. 

Lenk told of the “achievements” in his four years in South Africa, sharing Israel’s experience in water management and innovation and how last year, instead of the embassy hosting a Yom Ha’atzmaut party, they held “Israel Water Week” events in three cities in South Africa to show how Israel defeated drought and showing how South Africa can do it too. 

This paved the way for a number of official delegations to visit Israel over the past year. Lenk said that through an agreed work agenda signed by Directors General of Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and South Africa’s Department of International Relations and Co-operation, in March 2016, he is “glad that a number of official delegations have visited Israel since and that others will hopefully attend “Israel’s flagship WATEC conference and exhibition in September, to see how we desalinate, recycle and carefully manage every drop of water”. 

Lenk told how his team had offered agribusiness seminars from Mpumalanga to the Western Cape. Through a typical Lenk “hands on, show and tell”, he has even installed a greenhouse in the embassy grounds of local food production with Israeli technology. 

An innovative and inexpensive children’s wheelchair developed in Israel, was also on show.  Twelve of these have been donated locally with plans to include these “Wheelchairs of Hope” at the new Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital in Johannesburg. These are also to be integrated locally and across Africa.

Lenk spoke of the “increasing trade, exports and tourism between the two countries, that Israel’s relationship across Africa has gone through an impressive renewal. African states have more and more, been seeing Israel as an apt model of transformation success. How a small state with significant local and regional challenges, can go from simple agriculture to being a world leader in advanced technology. From exporting oranges, to research and development for a company like Apple,” quipped Lenk as he encouraged all to come to Israel to see for themselves.

Other aid to Africa was encouraged with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu having visited four African countries in July last year alone, with more to follow shortly. Leaders of nearly every political party in South Africa have visited Israel in the past two years, along with dozens of African leaders, some of whom were accompanied by Lenk.

Lenk and his guests drank a toast to friendship, co-operation and success between the people of Israel and the people of South Africa.

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