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Tajani: “United with Africa to create wellbeing for our peoples” (Avvenire)

From the southern shores of the Mediterranean to South Africa, from the Ivory Coast to Kenya, about 70 African delegates will take part in the first Italy-Africa Business Dialogue Forum to be held today at the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. A total of 47 business associations from 21 countries of the continent will attend. The event has been organised by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in cooperation with Confindustria Assafrica&Mediterraneo, with the support of the Italian Trade Agency. The aim is to strengthen the collaboration between Italian business associations and their counterparts from African countries, and to consolidate the economic partnership between Italy and Africa, especially in key sectors for the development of the continent: energy and digital transition, sustainable mobility, instrumental mechanics, and agro-industry.

Ever since the launch of the “Mattei Plan” by Italy’s Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, the Italian Government has placed Africa at the centre of its foreign policy efforts – and also of the G7 agenda. Italy and Africa are in fact bound by solid and deep relations based on a history of dialogue and mutual understanding. Their geographical proximity is combined with a wealth of relations nurtured as a result of the African diaspora in Italy and the large presence of Italians in Africa, many of them entrepreneurs, with over 1,600 Italian companies across the Continent. This is confirmed by hard data: from 2017 to 2022, Italy’s trade with Africa rose from around 36 billion euro to 70 billion, an increase of 93%. Even in 2023, which saw a general slowdown in international trade, the value of Italy-Africa bilateral trade still totalled close to 60 billion euro, plus a stock of Italian investments in Africa amounting to 26.8 billion. These figures are important, but at the same time they represent only a fraction of the great, yet untapped, potential of the partnership with African countries.

The link between Italy’s and Africa’s growth is therefore very strong. The strengthening of this mutually beneficial economic partnership acquires renewed importance also in the face of the multiple crisis scenarios that, from Ukraine to the Middle East, end up exacerbating the weaknesses of an already extremely unstable and fragmented international economic system. Due to the abundance of raw materials in its territory, Africa is also a strategic partner for Italy in terms of supplies, something that is essential for the security of the Italian economy that is built on the processing industry. Within the framework offered by the Mattei Plan, the Italian Government and, in particular, its Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, have already committed to the implementation of a wide range of initiatives. Among these are the activation of the dedicated reserve worth 200 million euro on the Simest 394/81 Fund; economic partnership events, including business forums, sector workshops, and Country presentations; and the various initiatives under the direction of the Italian Trade Agency.

Thanks to the decisions taken by the Italian Government, Africa has become the main recipient of Italian development cooperation. These initiatives, carried out in collaboration with the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation (AICS), are mainly aimed at fostering sustainable growth, food security, youth empowerment and vocational training, and the fight against climate change, for a total allocation of 2.5 billion euro, in addition to the 3 billion euro of the Italian Climate Fund, which will be activated soon.

All these efforts complement the work being carried out by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation together with Cassa Depositi e Prestiti to strengthen cooperation with the Multilateral Development Banks in Africa. This multitude of initiatives aims to transform the partnership with Africa not only into a concrete reality now, but also into a solid and credible prospect for the future, with the understanding that Italy and Africa share a common destiny, which is certainly marked by great challenges, but also by enormous opportunities. This partnership will help shape the future of the peoples of the African continent, who have the same right to development and economic stability as every other citizen of the planet.

The Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation

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