Sunday, March 4, 2018
It was one of Israel's founders and most renowned leader, Golda Meir, who believed there to be an affinity between Israel and the African nation. Golda believed that the lessons Israel had learned in its first few years could, should, and must benefit others.
The Africa Golda visited has changed dramatically, but it remains a continent of extremes, with vibrant modern cities and remote rural villages.
I saw the inequality first-hand as a young woman 20 years ago when I was first hired by Jordache Jeans to work in their factories in Africa. In the villages, I met people longing to improve their communities, but struggling to meet the basic needs for survival. The main challenge that they faced then and now is the lack of energy.
Because there is no energy, there is no access to vaccines and medicines in medical center, because there is no refrigeration to store them. No energy means no access to good education. But most importantly, no energy means no access to clean water.
People are forced to walk for hours in search of water. Yet, there is plenty of water right beneath their feet, a few meters deep in the aquifers. Only thing that we need, here again, is energy -- energy to pump the water.
I decided then, with Golda Meir as my inspiration and Israeli technologies as the solution, to go back and to find a way to help. I founded Innovation Africa with a very simple goal: to bring Israeli technologies to remote African villages. (Applause.)
At first, very simply, we installed a small solar system at a medical center and within days, mothers gave birth under the light and people had access to vaccines and medicines. We did the same at a school. The solar system allowed for the student to dramatically improve their performance and for the first time, for the use of computers.
Energy is one thing, but access to clean water is truly everything. With the help of the community, we brought a drilling machine, a few solar panels, a solar pump, and a water tank, and in only a few days, clean water was flowing to different taps that we installed throughout the village. Within months, drip irrigation allowed for better nutrition, better health, and most importantly, economic growth.
Today, 10 years later, we have provided light, water, and drip irrigation to over one million people in eight African countries. And our goal is to reach six million people by 2025, all using Israeli technologies and all in the name of Israel.
We don't just install solar system and walk away. We work hand-in-hand with the government, the local community, the engineers to implement and manage the system and to make sure that it's always working.
We developed a remote monitoring system, allowing us to monitor the project any time, from anywhere, and if there is a problem, we have our local team on the ground to repair it.
Golda Meir's legacy inspired generations of Israelis, innovators, engineers, and aid workers to look beyond our own borders.
Together, each of us is sharing the lessons our nation has learned. Because we can, because we should, and because we must. Thank you.