Jericho – H.E. Toshimitsu MOTEGI, Foreign Minister of Japan, and H.E. Khaled Al-Osaily, Minister of National Economy, opened today the Palestinian Business and Prosperity Centre at the Jericho Agro-industrial Park in the presence of H.E. Rula Maayah, Minister of Tourism and Antiquities, H.E. Jihad Abu Al-Asal, Governor of Jericho, Mr Salem Ghrouf, Mayor of Jericho, UNDP Special Representative of the Administrator, Ms Yvonne Helle, and Mr Haytham Wahidi, CEO of the Investment Promotion and Industrial Estate Agency.
The project aims to develop a fully functional and operational innovation business centre at the Jericho Agro-industrial Park to improve competitiveness of Palestinian businesses operating there, and in other industrial parks in the State of Palestine. The PALPRO Centre will also offer support to micro-small-medium enterprises (MSMEs) as well as selected entrepreneurs and start-ups with growth potential.
Following the ribbon cutting ceremony, the two ministers and accompanying high level delegation toured the centre where they were briefed on the services it provides.
Minister of National Economy, H.E. Khaled Al-Osaily, highlighted that the PALPRO centre will be a hub that serves not only JAIP tenants but MSME’s and entrepreneurs across the Palestinian state, especially in the Jordan valley where potential for development and priorities are high. “The peace and prosperity initiative supports the future growth of Palestinian trade and export and the Exclusive Road from JAIP to Shuna will be critical in that regard. I am also pleased to announce that the Deep Well shows good indicators to supply JAIP with water, in addition to other alternative sources, along with the recently installed two megawatt solar energy system that will reduce electricity costs,” His Excellency added.
The project is part of a comprehensive plan which aims to provide fully functional and operational services to the Jericho Agro-industrial Park (JAIP) and contribute towards Palestinian sustainable economic development and regional stability under the Japan-led “Corridor for Peace and Prosperity” initiative.
H.E. MAGHOSHI Masayuki, Ambassador for the Palestinian Affairs, Representative of Japan to Palestine commented: “Japan in cooperation with all partners aims to utilize PALPRO as a base for the development of the ICT sector. Our intention is that PALPRO will be a distinctive centre assisting regional SMEs and start-ups with high-quality technology and business services in the fields of agri-food, water and renewable energy, technological and business support to established companies and start-ups”. “A vibrant ICT sector has the potential to significantly contribute towards the economic growth of developing nations. Especially in Palestine, the potential of ICT sector is huge with a young and well-educated population. Japan believes that by engaging with young and talented entrepreneurs, we can maximize the potential of the ICT sector in contributing to the growth of national economy,” he added.
The project includes the construction of two additional floors to the JAIP administration building, with an area of approximately 1,200 square meters for each floor, and the provision of state of the art equipment to host the industrial business and innovation centre. The centre includes fully equipped labs (ICT Lab, Food Lab, and Fabrication Lab), three meeting rooms, clinic, cafeteria, common area, co-working spaces, storage area and offices.
The ICT Lab focuses on innovative solutions mainly within the agricultural sector. The Food Testing Lab serves businesses and farmers mostly for testing quality of packaging, food products, soil, fertilizers, water quality, etc., while the Fabrication Lab will be used for prototype development and packaging designed to fit export requirements for regional and international markets.
“The Government of Japan is a true strategic partner for UNDP. This project will accelerate Palestinian industrialization and provide opportunities for entrepreneurs and MSMEs to develop and expand in local and international markets, and contribute to a viable Palestinian economy,” said Yvonne Helle, UNDP Special Representative of the Administrator. “We expect the centre to achieve a self-financing rate of around 60% - 70% at the end of five years from private sources, including service revenues, and the rest originating from donors as well as public and private subsidies,” she added.
The project will also contribute to strengthening businesses operating at the Jericho Agro-Industrial Park (JAIP) by introducing them to new marketing channels and export opportunities as well as enhancing their capacity to manage their own businesses. It is expected that at least 60 MSMEs and entrepreneurs will benefit from the PALPRO Centre during the pilot phase from April to October 2021.
The JAIP was founded to support the Palestinian Government in establishing a viable Palestinian State with a sustainable economic system for developing Agro-industries, encouraging investment, promoting trade, and creating job opportunities in Jericho city and the Jordan Valley. The park is expected to provide over 3,500 direct job opportunities and generate thousands of workdays upon its completion.
It is worth noting that the Government of Japan is considered one of UNDP’s strongest partners, contributing to improving the lives of the Palestinian people. The Government of Japan has provided more than US$356 million to UNDP/PAPP since 1993 for project implementation in the areas of infrastructure, rubble removal, health, education, agriculture, access to justice, and others.