Italy unveils strategic plan for Africa

Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni yesterday unveiled a strategic plan of cooperation with Africa aimed at boosting economic ties in several sectors for the benefit of  both Europe and the Africa.

Prime Minister Meloni outlined the vision yesterday at the Italy-Africa summit which President Mnangagwa and other world leaders attended yesterday.

Addressing leaders from both Europe and the African continent, Prime Minister Melon outlined a series of initiatives, pledging an initial 5,5 billion euros (US$5,95bn), including state guarantees.

The inaugural summit, which over the years has been held at ministerial level is being held under the theme, “A bridge for common growth”.

This come as African leaders attending the summit called for genuine partnership between the two sides that is mutually beneficial, based on respect of each other’s choices without imposing one’s wish on the other.

In her official opening address, PM Meloni unveiled her country’s plan for the development of the African continent which she hoped would stimulate growth and stop illegal migration to Europe.

She revealed a series of pilot projects in individual countries that she said would enable Africa to become a major exporter of energy, among other sectors.

Other areas of cooperation were in education, technology, research and agriculture.

Prime Minister Meloni said Africa was not poor given that it was endowed with minerals, had 60 percent of arable land and huge human capital

“We want to free up African energy to guarantee younger generations a right which to date has been denied,” Prime Minister Meloni said.

“Because here in Europe, we talk a lot about the right to emigrate, but we rarely talk about guaranteeing the right not to be forced to emigrate.”

According to Mrs Meloni, her country’s plan for Africa’s development will create jobs on the continent and discourage young people from leaving and attempting dangerous journeys across the Mediterranean Sea to reach Europe.

The plan, named after founder of state-controlled gas giant Eni Enrico Mattei, involves pilot projects in areas such as health care, water, sanitation, agriculture and infrastructure.

“It’s a cooperation of equals, far from any predatory temptation, but also far from the charitable posture with Africa that rarely is reconciled with its extraordinary potential for development,” she said.

In his address, African Union Commission chair, Dr Moussa Faki Mahamat outlined the continent’s expectations for a sustainable relations between Italy and the African continent.

While commending Italian authorities for conceiving the strategic partnership, he was clear that it had to be consultative and mutually beneficial.

He said like any relationship there were certain principles that needed to be observed and respected.

Dr Mahamat said either side was supposed to have a choice to make decisions of its own without imposition by either side.

“We need genuine partnership on a win-win basis, Africa is not begging for anything. We want a relationship that is based on a principle of mutual benefit. We want to build peace and have development together. The relationship must be mutually be respected,”” said Dr Mahamat.

He said African countries would have wanted to be consulted before Italy rolled out its plan.

“We need to pass from words to deeds. We cannot be happy with promises that are never maintained,” he said.

United Nations Deputy Secretary-General, Mrs Amina Jane Mohammed echoed the sentiments by Dr Mahamat saying the global body was prepared to provide technical support for the mutual growth and development of Europe and Africa.

African Union chair and president of the Comoros Azali Assoumani also addressed the summit calling for mutually beneficial cooperation for Italy and African countries.

Speaking at the same event, European Parliament president Roberta Metsola said there was need to move together for the mutual benefit of both the African continent and Europe.

She said when Africa prospered, Europe would follow suit and so would the whole world.

“The relationship between our great continents must be characterised by a real partnership of equals, one where we acknowledge the past and look to the future together. That is how we all prosper. How all our peoples are able to thrive and to fulfil their potential,” she said.

She called for a real partnership, underscoring that “the world is changing and we must change with it.”

“We are entering a new era of international interdependency, where cooperation has never been more important. We need to have the courage to be honest with ourselves, honest about where we have succeeded, honest also about where we can do better,” she said.

The world, she said, could grow together sustainably, not at the expense of each other.

President Mnangagwa is accompanied by Foreign Affairs and International Trade Minister Frederick Shava, Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development Minister, Dr Anxious Masuka, Finance, Economic Development and Investment Promotion Minister, Professor Mthuli Ncube Deputy Chief Secretary (Presidential Communications) in the Office of the President and Cabinet, Mr George Charamba and senior Government officials.

The summit is expected to give impetus to the Second Republic’s thrust to achieve energy sufficiency for sustained economic growth.

Italy has this year taken over the presidency of the Group of Seven (G7) nations and has pledged to make Africa a central theme while it is at the helm.


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