Get Informed, Stay Inspired

The newly elected President of the G7, Italy, plans to prioritize partnerships with Africa instead of focusing solely on providing aid, according to Meloni.
Africa Economy Europe

The newly elected President of the G7, Italy, plans to prioritize partnerships with Africa instead of focusing solely on providing aid, according to Meloni.

During its one-year term as the rotating leader of the Group of Seven, Italy’s Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni emphasized the importance of building strategic partnerships with Africa rather than simply offering aid.

According to her, improving local economies and increasing living standards in Africa may discourage potential migrants from seeking asylum in Europe.

During a press conference, Meloni announced the Mattei Plan, which is named after Enrico Mattei, the founder of Eni, a government-owned oil and gas company. The plan includes various projects in addition to energy agreements. More information will be revealed at a conference in Rome later this month.

The declaration was greeted by Professor Nicholas Westcott from the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies.

He stated to VOA that it is a positive step, but it must be followed through on. He noted that in the past, there has been more discussion than action in this area.

Westcott, who was formerly the European Union’s managing director for Africa, said the EU had put up “a significant sum of money to encourage investment, but it hasn’t had much impact yet.”

He suggested that the EU should improve its efforts in investing effectively in Africa.

According to Westcott, this is an opportune moment to take action. Africa is lacking in investments, and the need for them presents an opportunity for economies to adjust to the effects of climate change, which are already significantly affecting Africa.

The United Nations reported that the majority of the approximately 261,000 individuals who migrated from northern Africa to Europe in 2023 arrived through Italy via the Mediterranean Sea. Despite Italy’s strict immigration policies and limitations on sea rescue organizations, the flow of migrants has not been reduced.

FILE - Migrants of African origin are crammed on board a small boat as the Tunisian coast guard prepares to transfer them onto its vessel, at sea between Tunisia and Italy, on Aug. 10, 2023. Most of the 261,000 migrants who entered Europe illegally in 2023 came to Italy.

On August 10, 2023, a group of African migrants were packed onto a small boat as the Tunisian coast guard arranged for them to be transferred onto their own vessel in the waters between Tunisia and Italy. Italy received the majority of the 261,000 migrants who entered Europe through illegal means in 2023.

The current administration in Italy, led by Meloni, has expressed willingness to consider legal immigration as a solution to address labor shortages in the country. Italy is facing challenges due to its aging population, which is one of the oldest and decreasing in the world.

Westcott stated that the plan’s underlying goal of decreasing illegal immigration from Africa is a feasible approach in the political climate of Europe.

He stated that the far right is exploiting anti-immigrant sentiments to gain votes in Europe, but without productive solutions to address the issue, more harmful policies will be implemented.

Italian officials are aiming to establish partnerships and mutually beneficial relationships with African nations, rather than exploiting them. Maddalena Procopio, a researcher at the European Council on Foreign Relations, explained that this approach is motivated by the energy cooperation Africa has offered to Italy, allowing them to lessen their reliance on Russian gas.

According to Procopio, although migration is a significant concern for Italy and the EU, the Mattai Plan has a more economic focus.

“The topic of transitioning from aid and development cooperation to economic partnership is a frequent point of discussion in Italy and Europe,” she stated. “However, it is doubtful that we will witness a complete shift or decrease in aid. It is more probable that both approaches will be utilized.”

The shift towards an economic partnership rather than solely development cooperation is a positive and practical change in approach. Africa has extensive financial needs for crucial areas such as infrastructure, energy, healthcare, and education.

Procopio stated that relying solely on public funding from the EU and Western countries will not be enough to meet development requirements, thus private funding will also be needed.