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Italy unveils $5.9bn strategic partnership program with Africa

Monday, 29 January 2024 18:39
Italy unveils $5.9bn strategic partnership program with Africa

(Ecofin Agency) - Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni announced today a "strategic partnership" program with African countries, revealing an initial budget of $5.9 billion. Dubbed the "Mattei Plan," this initiative has a dual objective: to accelerate the development of African countries, thereby reducing migratory flows to Europe, and to establish Italy as an energy hub connecting Africa to Europe.

"Our plan is supported by $5.5 billion in loans, grants, and guarantees. Approximately $3 billion will come from the Italian Climate Fund, and $2.5 billion from the Development Cooperation Fund," said Meloni at the opening of the inaugural Italy/Africa Summit in Rome.

The partnership program, known as the "Mattei Plan," takes its name from Enrico Mattei, the founder of the Italian energy giant ENI. In the 1950s, Mattei advocated for an extensive development plan for African countries, assisting them in harnessing their natural resources.

Speaking in the presence of over 20 African heads of state and government, including the presidents of Tunisia, Senegal, Comoros, Republic of Congo, Eritrea, Ghana, Kenya, Mauritania, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe, Meloni highlighted the interconnected destinies of Africa and Europe.

"Italy is committed to demonstrating our awareness of the interconnected fate of our continents. We can envision and script a new chapter in our relations, involving cooperation among equals, far from any predatory temptations and charitable approaches to Africa," she declared. Meloni stated that her government aims to engage the private sector and international organizations, such as the European Union (EU), in the Mattei Plan.

The President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, and the President of the European Parliament, Roberta Metsola, were all present at the opening session of the Italy/Africa Summit in Rome.

Meloni, whose country presides over the G7 this year, also pledged to make the development of Africa a central theme of her mandate. "Italy has made a specific choice in foreign policy that will give Africa a place of honor in the agenda of our G7 presidency," she announced.

In a statement given on Sunday evening to the public television channel Rai 1, the Italian Prime Minister unveiled some pilot projects envisaged under the Mattei Plan. "A large professional training center for renewable energies in Morocco, projects on education in Tunisia, and others for healthcare access in Côte d'Ivoire are some of the Mattei Plan's pilot projects. Sharing is one of the key principles of the plan, and the outcomes of this summit will be crucial to enriching the journey," she said, specifying that projects are also planned in Algeria, Mozambique, Egypt, the Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, and Kenya.

According to Italian media, the plan, spanning four renewable years, will be structured across various intervention areas, including partnerships in the energy sector, promotion of exports and investments, education and training, healthcare, food security, sustainable exploitation of natural resources, environmental protection, infrastructure development, prevention of irregular migration, and management of legal migration flows.

The goal is both to secure the EU's energy supply and expedite the development of African countries to curb migratory flows to Europe. During the UN General Assembly in September 2023, the Italian Prime Minister presented her plan as "a serious alternative to the phenomenon of mass migration."

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ECOFIN AGENCY offers a selection of articles translated from AGENCE ECOFIN. Founded in 2011, Agence Ecofin is a leader in Francophone Pan-African economic news, particularly in West and Central Africa. The agency publishes daily news on nine African economic sectors: Public Management, Finance, ICT, Agribusiness, Energy, Mining, Transport & Logistics, Communication, and Training.

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