Ran Gidor, Isreali Ambassador to Cameroon.
Can you give us an overview of Cameroon-Israel relations?
Israel was one of the very few countries to establish diplomatic relations with Cameroon immediately after independence and in fact, our lady Prime Minister at the time, Golda Meir visited Cameroon. We have had very good cooperation until 1973 because of the war in the Middle East. Most African countries broke off relations with Israel but we re-established relations with Cameroon in 1996 when our former leader Shimon Peres came here. Since 1996, we have had uninterrupted relations for 32 years which is extremely positive. In Jerusalem, we consider Cameroon to be an intimate ally. Cameroon is not just a friendly country to us. We cooperate in so many different domains of our bilateral relations.
You are commemorating the World Bee Day in Cameroon, what attachment does the Israeli government have in the cultivation of bees?
The Israel government especially MASHAV (Israel’s Agency for International Development Cooperation) is very active in promoting food security. Israel itself is 60 per cent desert, which means that we have to struggle to produce food. This is the biggest challenge that is facing humanity all over the planet. Humanity is growing and there is not enough food to feed everyone. This problem is becoming worse because of the disappearance of bees. Bees are very important in pollination. You can all remember the famous Albert Einstein who said if all bees were to die, humanity will have just about four years of existence. MASHAV therefore and the Israel government are embarking on the development of scientific and technological ways to address the worry. We train and exchange information with Cameroonian farmers on bee cultivation, its transformation and other associated activities.
What are some other projects and areas of cooperation between both countries?
In terms of security, it is a well known fact that Israeli experts have been involved over the years and even now in supporting the Cameroonian authorities counter terrorism. On educational basis, last year, over 65 Cameroonians were in Israel for MASHAV training in several domains. Cameroon is the second highest in the whole of Africa in terms of the number of trainees that go to Israel after Kenya. We have several trilateral projects with the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, with Germany and France in the domain of mango chain productivity. We equally have other collaborative projects in the areas of irrigation and soil compose. There are several humanitarian projects in Cameroon such as the support to refugees, children with disabilities and very soon, I hope next month, we will upgrade the facilities of the only centre in Central Africa that provides braille texts for blind people. Our flagship and number one priority in Cameroon is encouraging entrepreneurship and innovation. We work very closely with young Cameroonian entrepreneurs to encourage the young generation of computer scientists who own business and make a fortune for themselves.
What do you perceive of bilateral relation with Cameroon in the near future?
I think after 32 years of uninterrupted growth and bilateral relations, there is no doubt that our relationship will only improve. Of course, it is not a secret that Cameroon is going through this year through several challenges. They are facing crises in the Anglophone regions, the Extreme North and this year, there will be presidential elections. We hope that there will be peace in Cameroon, a country that has been so famous over the world for its harmony and peaceful religious coexistence. We desire to see broader cooperation ties.