Africa is at a crossroads. Concerns and hopes dovetail in what is no longer the «lost continent». In this new century Africa has made significant progress.
Education and health care have improved, the role of women has grown in several societies and many Countries have become stabler and have recorded considerable economic growth. However, during the same years, also the threat of terrorism has grown, spiralling States into bankruptcy, and migration flows have hiked. The response to the population growth trend will be the barometer of the Continent’s global future and of the gargantuan challenges to its sustainable development: the African population will double to 2.5 billion people by 2050. Building economic opportunities for new generations is key in avoiding the risks of social instability and radicalisation.
The crossroads that Africa is facing concerns us, perhaps now as never before. In fact, unless we closely cooperate with Africa it will not be possible to effectively tackle global issues like terrorism, migration flows, energy security, illegal trafficking and climate change.
This is why Italy has decided to pin its hopes on the future of Africa by making a long-term investment on sustainability.
Firstly by making security and peace sustainable. Africa concentrates eight out of ten of the major international peacekeeping operations. Italy is in the forefront in the stabilisation of Libya, Somalia and the Horn of Africa, also through an intense training activity of African security forces and institution building.
Secondly by making economic development sustainable. In order to offset the difficulties arising from the fall in the price of raw materials, structural reforms are needed to modernise agriculture, manage the urbanisation process, diversify the production system and boost intra-Africa trade. Italy can play a relevant role in a Continent in which 600 million people still do not have stable access to electricity. Following up on the experience of the Milan Expo, our companies will be able to contribute to integrating African agriculture in global value chains and facilitate a «sustainable green revolution». Equally decisive will be the role of Italian cooperation and of the thousands of volunteers who give life to the projects.
Lastly, making migration flows sustainable. Between 2010 and 2015, two million Africans have migrated to Europe, 10.3% more than in the previous five-year period. We are witnessing a global phenomenon that must be tackled with a coherent strategy. This is why Italy is proud to have long been engaged in saving human lives in the Mediterranean. This is why we have proposed the «Migration Compact», which is essentially based on the idea of creating a long-term partnership with Africa, also through innovative forms of support and financing, asking African Countries in return for more effective border control and closer cooperation in the matter of repatriations.
A new pact for sustainable development between Europe and Africa, between the «old Continent» and the Continent of youth: this is the challenge that the Italian Government wants to launch at the first Italy-Africa Conference.