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Bonino in Ghana and Senegal – Political dialogue, human rights and economic cooperation

Revitalising economic relations, strengthening bilateral cooperation on gender issues and human rights, and regional dossiers and UN matters. These are the key topics for discussion during Foreign Minister Emma Bonino’s mission to Ghana and Senegal from 5 to 8 January 2014. The mission, to two of the African continent’s most stable countries, comes in the wake of the Italy-Africa Initiative presented on 30 December 2013.

Ghana and Senegal are looking with conviction to economic growth and improvements to their infrastructure, which makes them fertile ground for the internationalisation of Italian businesses. During her visit to Accra and Dakar Minister Bonino will also reiterate Italy’s commitment in a number of key sectors in the region, from governance to human rights, from the environment to cultural cooperation.

Accra: Bonino to meet Tetteh to discuss “Women in Diplomacy”

Ghana and its capital, Accra, will be the first stage of Minister Bonino’s trip. There, she will meet her colleague Hanna Tetteh, a board member of “Women in Diplomacy”, in which context she visited Rome on 14 November 2013. Minister Tetteh has a keen interest in women’s empowerment and the issue of female genital mutilation.

After the bilateral, Minister Bonino will visit a development project for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) funded by Italy through the Ghana Private Sector Development Facility. The project is a sign that this country on Africa’s Atlantic seaboard is ready to embark on stable and continuing economic growth. According to the World Bank, as early as 2015 the country could graduate from “poor country” to “medium income” status, thanks to projected growth of at least 7% in coming years.

7% growth makes Ghana one of Africa’s most dynamic economies

This potential will be one of the leitmotifs of Foreign Minister Bonino’s visit to Ghana, whose leading suppliers in 2012 were China, Nigeria and the Netherlands, with Italy the second customer for its exports, after France. Today, infrastructure, agriculture, waste management and construction could open new doors for our companies, in addition to those already opened by Ghana’s natural resources.

Ghana will also be taking part in EXPO 2015, through the “Cacao Cluster”, and, along with Italy, looks set to be one of the most active countries in the “Women for EXPO” initiative. An exchange of views on the United Nations reforms and a revitalisation of political relations, not least in the context of the Italy-Africa initiative, are the other topics for discussion during Emma Bonino’s mission to Accra.

Dakar: visit to focus on UN reform, regional dossiers and gender issues

On 7 January Minister Bonino will be travelling to Dakar. Here, she will meet Foreign Minister Mankeur Ndiaye and other members of the Senegalese government, as well as representatives of the Italian community in Senegal. Topics for discussion during the bilateral include the UN Security Council reform, gender issues and regional dossiers. Italian Development Cooperation’s 2014-16 Country Programme for Senegal, as a priority country in West Africa, will also be discussed.

Political dialogue, cultural relations, development cooperation and cooperation in the justice, defence and policing sectors are some of the subjects Minister Bonino will discuss with her Senegalese hosts. Economic opportunities are another focus of her mission, especially in a country that has never seen coups d’état and which, in a troubled region (with the crisis in Mali in the forefront), is a beacon for stabilisation. President Macky Sall has introduced a broad platform of reforms, eliminating the Senate to cut the costs of politics and thus increasing the funds available to rebuild the areas hit by flooding in 2012.

EXPO 2015 and the Italy-Africa initiative will give new impetus to economic relations with Senegal

Tourism, construction, agri-food, fishing, renewable energy and telecommunications are the sectors holding out most potential for economic collaboration with Senegal, which saw economic growth of 3.7% in 2012. The country’s natural leading trade partner is France, while in 2011 Italy was its second foreign investor, ahead even of the Chinese. We are Senegal’s 14th supplier country and the 10th customer for its exports. EXPO 2015, where Dakar will have its own space in the “Agriculture and Nutrition in Arid Regions” cluster, will provide another impetus for Italian-Senegalese economic relations.

In short, the Italy-Africa initiative sets the seal on our country’s new engagement with Senegal and Ghana, and with the entire Sub-Saharan region.