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Alfano: Here is Italy’s Agenda for Africa (La Repubblica)

To the Editor-in-Chief,

Last Sunday’s op-ed by Eugenio Scalfari ends with a wise exhortation to help Africa, also in view of the growth with which that great Continent will pay us back.   

Africa is a source of many global challenges: political, economic, migratory, environmental and demographic. They are all separate challenges but are interlinked. We must work on them in cooperation with many other Countries but also as Italy, a Country with a specifically Mediterranean vocation.  

Our Agenda for Africa is dense. Last Thursday we hosted at the Farnesina a working meeting with the foreign ministers of different European Countries and of the main African States of transit of migration flows. It was an innovative format that filled a vacuum in the international scenario and that reached tangible results: immediate aid to Libya and the African Countries willing to reinforce their border controls in full respect of the rights of migrants and refugees and in cooperation with the International Organisation for Migration and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

Italy acted as catalyst, stimulating European Countries to double Italy’s fund with theirs, collecting 60 million euros for the Countries of transit by the end of the day, in addition to the 50 million euros that were allocated to Niger only a few months ago to control the southern border of Libya.

In the aftermath of the Rome conference, together with the Libyan Deputy Prime Minister Maiteeg, I organised the first Italian-Libyan Economic Forum in Agrigento. While pursuing stability, we are beginning to get our companies ready for the new market in Libya, with its potential for new opportunities. Italian companies jumped on the opportunity and more than one hundred attended the Forum. And, together with the Libyans, we laid the grounds on which to define a joint investment action plan.

The Declaration signed in Agrigento, a city that geographically and symbolically overlooks that sea from which Italy has rescued hundreds of thousands of human lives, testifies to our commitment to unite the two shores of the Mediterranean. This is the philosophy underlying the reopening of our Embassy in Tripoli and bolstering our diplomatic network in the Sahel, of our frequent talks with our African colleagues, of the Italian contribution to the Trust Fund for Africa, of the many resources allocated to Development Cooperation, which we have increased by 25% since last year and that will reach 565 million euros in 2017, of the establishment of a 200-million-euro “Africa Fund”, of our unrelenting diplomatic effort to put Africa at the centre of the international agenda.  

Because, dear friend, while we work to build a strong European foreign and migration policy, we are also trying to convince our partners that Africa’s development is in everybody’s interest. In the meantime, we are also proceeding on our own, comforted by the fact that Europe is starting to understand that it “has no reason to fear Africa” and that, with Africa, it must have the confidence to jointly build the foundations for a common partnership for growth and security.

This is the trend reversal that we need in our approach. And this is the sense of the Agenda for Africa that we have been developing these past few months. An Agenda that we would like our Country to keep, beyond any future election or the political colour of the government.