The Italy-Africa Summit opens on Sunday in Rome with a dinner hosted by the President of the Republic, Sergio Mattarella, at the Quirinal Palace. Guests include heads of state and government from various African countries, representatives of the European Union, including Ursula von der Leyen, and international organizations. The Speaker of the Council, Giorgia Meloni, is accompanied by the heads of the two branches of Parliament and its ministers. For the leader of the Fratelli d'Italia party, this summit, which will conclude on Monday evening, will undoubtedly be a moment of great media exposure, just months before the European elections.
Instead of the “Mati Plan” named after the founder of the energy company Eni, the project for Africa could be called the Meloni Plan. The Prime Minister considers it a pillar of a new form of partnership between Italy and the African continent, of mutual benefit, and which wants to move away from “ My father ” And ” Predatory ” Focus on ” Equal partnerships “.
Since she visited Chigi Palace, she has not skimped on making visits to Africa to demonstrate her diplomatic activity. From Mozambique and Congo to Tunisia, Algeria, Ethiopia and Libya, Giorgia Meloni aims to guarantee Italy's energy needs after the significant reduction in Russian gas supplies.
But it also aspires to strengthen its anti-immigrant voter base in preparation for the European elections. For this reason, the Iron Lady of Rome hopes to forget the failures with regard to reducing migration flows across the Mediterranean. Hence the idea of huge investments in African countries to fight the factors that lead to illegal immigration from their roots. It even cherishes the hope of creating hotspots in Africa.
An “empty box” for the opposition
For the entire center-left opposition, the “Matti Plan” will be at the present stage.” Empty box In other words, a project without clearly defined content. It is known that Giorgia Meloni wants to make Italy a center for African energy resources and European markets, while promoting investments in various sectors.
Its goal, in the background, is to stop migration flows from Africa, as Senator Alessandro Alfieri, leader of the Democratic Party group in the Foreign Affairs Committee, denounces. ” We fear that the Council President will use the “Matti Plan” as an opportunity to give money to African countries to detain migrants. From our point of view, we must build development cooperation projects in order to develop the economies of African countries. But also so that people can come to Italy because our country, which is suffering from demographic decline, needs qualified labor in certain fields. »
Alessandro Alfieri also believes that the “Mattei Plan” requires the participation of other EU countries. ” We must cooperate with major European countries. Otherwise, we risk losing challenges with Russia, which is pursuing a neocolonial approach, especially in the Sahel countries, and with China, which is intervening in a predatory manner. But money is needed, which does not exist at this stage “.
Giorgia Meloni should, finally, reveal all the details of the plan during the Italian-African Conference to be held in the Senate. But in the meantime, the parameters of the project are still very vague, points out Oldilul Chelate Dirar, a professor at the University of Macerata. ” We'll have to see how much they plan to put on the table, and what the financing will be. It's easy to talk, but hard to take action. Recently, there has been focus on the environmental issue, with the idea of making future development aid conditional on strengthening environmental protection policies – but it is difficult to say whether this will be substantive or merely cosmetic. »
If Italy intends to ensure its energy security by strengthening its relations with Africa, it should not put the continent's needs aside. Fatih Birol, Director of the International Energy Agency, is scheduled to participate in this summit. ” Some European countries, for example, are interested in green hydrogen – with the idea of generating hydrogen in Africa and then exporting it to Europe. Some players are even thinking about producing electricity in Africa and then transporting it to Europe! But I believe that Africa's energy needs today are much greater than Europe's, and I would prefer that we respond first to Africa's needs before moving on to something else. »
More than twenty heads of state, heads of government, ministers and senior African officials are expected to arrive in Rome.
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