FACTBOX-Israel and Iran compete for African trade, support

July 12 (BestGrowthStock) – Arch foes Iran and Israel have taken
their diplomatic rivalry to Africa, courting the continent with
everything from trade to security ties in their search for
support in the United Nations.

Here is a snapshot how the two countries have been competing
for good relations and trade with Africa in the last year.

— According to Israel’s Ministry of Industry and Trade, in
2009, Israeli exports to Africa totalled some $1.06 billion, a
38 percent decrease from 2008 when exports reached $1.47
billion. The ministry blamed the global financial crisis for the
decline. Imports from Africa in 2009 totalled $1.5 billion.

— South Africa last month announced that it was recalling
its ambassador to Israel for consultations following the killing
of nine activists on a Gaza-bound aid boat.

— In February 2010, Kenya and Israel held talks about
security in Kenya. During the talks, the Kenyan security
minister appealed for assistance from Israel to fight against
groups he referred to as Somali jihadists.

— Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and a business
delegation visited Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Nigeria and Ghana in
a week-long tour in September 2009. Israel said the trip was
aimed at developing ties and countering Iran’s influence.

— Lieberman signed an international cooperation deal with
his Nigerian counterpart as well as with regionaly body ECOWAS
for Israel to help in food security, water resources and the
fight against desertification. Nigeria also signed a $25 million
deal with Israel Shipyards for the construction and delivery of
two Shaldag patrol boats.

— During a Lieberman’s visit to Uganda, President Yoweri
Museveni said that the relations between Uganda and Israel were
good and revealed that the Israeli government would launch a
special agricultural programme in the east.

— Israel is heavily involved in oil-exporting Equatorial
Guinea, where it provides security for the government and is
building a $100 million hospital complex.

— Mining magnates Dan Gertler and Benny Steinmetz have
multi-billion dollar investments in Democratic Republic of Congo
and Guinea, respectively.

— Mauritania, straddling black and Arab Africa, severed
diplomatic ties with Israel in March 2010, completing a process
that began in 2009 in response to Israel’s attacks on Gaza.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has praised the move.

— In March 2009 the New York Times reported that Israeli
warplanes attacked a convoy of trucks in Sudan in January to
block a suspected arms delivery to the Palestinian Islamist
group Hamas in Gaza.


— Last month Senegal’s commerce minister welcomed Iran’s
proposal to carry out infrastructure projects in the
west-African country, including road, railway, port and airport
construction, at the fourth meeting of Iran-Senegal joint
economic commission in Tehran, Fars news agency reported.

— Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe told Iran’s
Ahmadinejad in Harare in April 2010 that Zimbabwe backed Iran’s
controversial nuclear programme and accused the West of seeking
to punish the two countries for asserting their independence.
Zimbabwe denied reports that it had signed an agreement allowing
Iran to mine its uranium.

— Zimbabwe and Iran signed cooperation agreements in the
fields of energy, science and technology and agriculture. A
month later a Zimbabwe-Iran joint tractor manufacturing project,
Motira, started operating at the Willowvale Mazda Motor
Industries assembly plant, with at least 60 units having been
rolled out to date.

— In April Ahmadinejad visited Uganda to lobby for support
for his country’s nuclear development. Uganda has increased its
ties to Iran recently and President Yoweri Museveni visited Iran
in 2009.

— Museveni announced that Iran had agreed to assist Uganda
in the construction of an oil refinery. Iran also agreed to help
train Ugandans at the country’s University of Petroleum Studies.

— In April 2009 Kenya said it expected revenue from tea,
its number two hard currency earner, to rise following a
marketing deal with Iran.

— One month earlier Iran announced it would supply Kenya
with four million metric tonnes of crude annually. The two
countries also signed deals on loans, water supply and direct
flights between the two.

— In October 2008 a report by U.S. based activist group
Human Rights First revealed that Iran and Russia had joined
China and others as direct weapons suppliers for Sudan after a
U.N. embargo was imposed in 2004. The report said Iran’s total
arms sales were over $12 million to Sudan, including tanks. That
was consistent with information from Western diplomats, who have
said that Tehran was selling Sudan arms to cement ties and
deepen military cooperation. The report was dismissed by Sudan.

Sources: Reuters/All Africa

FACTBOX-Israel and Iran compete for African trade, support