Italy hosts summit for Africa to present its New Deal

Italy hosts summit for Africa to present its New Deal

Italy will host a summit of African leaders in Rome on Monday where Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni will unveil energy deals in exchange for increased cooperation on migration, a “like-for-like” approach that is struggling to convince its critics can.

The theme of this conference: the unveiling of the “Mattei Plan”, named after Enrico Mattei, the founder of ENI (the Italian public energy giant), who in the 1950s advocated a cooperative relationship with African countries by helping them in the development their natural resources helped resources.

Italy, which chairs the G7 this year, has committed to making African development a central theme of its mandate, also to increase its influence on a continent where powers such as China, Russia, Turkey, India and Japan have increased their political weight.

Representatives from more than 25 countries are expected in the Senate, as well as representatives from United Nations organizations and international institutions such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank and the World Food Program (WFP). “U.N.

Particularly announced are the Presidents of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, of Tunisia, Kais Saied, of Senegal, Macky Sall, but also of the Comoros, the Republic of Congo, Eritrea, Ghana, Kenya, Mauritania, Mozambique and Zimbabwe. Other countries such as Algeria, Chad, Egypt and the Democratic Republic of Congo have sent ministers.

This summit comes after the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) withdrew from Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger, where the military took power by force.

These three countries will not be represented at the summit in Rome, which ends on Monday evening.

Also expected are the presidents of the European institutions, Ursula von der Leyen (Commission), Charles Michel (European Council) and Roberta Metsola (Parliament).

According to AFP journalists, the delegates arrived on Monday morning and were greeted by the head of Italian diplomacy, Antonio Tajani, and then by Giorgia Meloni.

Rome hopes to involve all of these international actors in the implementation of its plan in areas of development as diverse as education, health systems and water.

But experts say Italy could struggle to get support from the European Union, which has already presented a 150 billion euro aid plan for Africa in 2022.

Readmission of migrants

The Italian leader, who comes to power in 2022 with an anti-migrant program, hopes to make Italy a bridge between Europe and Africa by offering the former new supply routes for energy resources and the latter massive investments.

Currently, the Italian government, which last year reduced its bilateral development assistance (with the exception of Libya), has earmarked 2.8 million euros per year between 2024 and 2026 under the Mattei plan, the amount and conditions of which we do not know.

In fact, according to the daily Corriere della Sera, Rome could allocate four billion euros to this plan over the next five to seven years, in the areas of agribusiness, transport and infrastructure – and especially energy.

Ms Meloni wants to capitalize on demand from other European countries looking to reduce their dependence on Russian gas following Moscow's invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

France and China in 2021 and Russia in 2023 have also organized summits with Africa.

Around forty African civil society organizations have expressed concerns that the aim of this plan is simply to “improve Italy's access to African fossil gas for the benefit of Europe and to strengthen the role of Italian companies in the exploitation of Africa's natural and human resources”.

On the migration scale, the Mattei plan envisages addressing so-called “incentive factors” and persuading countries of origin to sign readmission agreements for rejected migrants.

Despite the Italian leader's pledges to stop boats from North Africa, landings in Italy have increased sharply since she took office, from about 105,000 migrants in 2022 to almost 158,000 in 2023.