Italy presents its New Deal for Africa at a summit

Italy presents its “New Deal” for Africa at a summit in Rome

From Le Figaro with AFP

Posted 32 minutes ago

Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni meets with African Union Commission Chairman Moussa Faki Mahamat on January 29, 2024. REMO CASILLI/Portal

Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni will unveil the underside of the “Mattei Plan” this Monday, accompanied by several African and European leaders.

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

Implementation of a development plan

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. The heads of state and government of more than 25 countries, the list of which has not been officially announced, are expected in the Senate, alongside representatives of United Nations organizations, the World Bank and the African Union, as well as economic institutions such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Particular attention should be paid to Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger, whose ruling military regimes announced on Sunday their “immediate” withdrawal from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). The presidents of the European institutions, Ursula von der Leyen (Commission), Charles Michel (European Council) and Roberta Metsola (Parliament), will also be announced at this conference, which ends on Monday evening.

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.

Four billion euros in the next five to seven years

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 allocated 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.

Giorgia 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. Around forty African civil society organizations have expressed concern that the aim of this plan is simply to “increase Italy's dependence”. Access to African fossil gas for the benefit of Europe and strengthening 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.