Africa: Reactions to Italy’s Development Plan for Africa

Source: African News

It seeks to fulfill two ambitions: reducing illegal migration through economic prosperity and transforming Italy into a key energy supply hub.

If the head of the UN Migration agency warned against scaling down rescue missions on the Mediterranean, she welcomed Monday (Jan. 29) the summit.

“The fact that the conversation is not all about migration, but about how you drive better development outcomes, how you invest in green energy, how you invest in job training, that is a much more effective way of dealing with migration pressures, than just talking about how do we stop people from crossing the Mediterranean,”  Amy Pope, the director general of the International Organization for Migration said.

Monday’s summit — held at the Italian Senate to demonstrate the commitment of all Italian public institutions to the project — marks the first time it’s under the head of state or government level.

The summit included presentations by Italian ministers detailing various aspects of the plan. A gala dinner hosted by Italian President Sergio Mattarella was held on Sunday night (Jan. 28).

Long-term horizon

The Secretary General of one of the main non-profit Italian development foundations in Africa said the Mattei plan would reduce migration only in the long term.

“The Mattei Plan decree already speaks of a four-year horizon. This we can consider a medium-term horizon. But to have an impact in these countries, especially from the point of view of education and therefore to train the new generations from an educational point of view, we need at least a ten-year horizon to have results,” Giampaolo Silvestri of the AVSI foundation for development cooperation explained.

“Then clearly in the short term, you can activate tools to manage the migration phenomenon more than to contain it, to manage that is to create legally authorized regular migration flows. But I don’t believe that (this plan) can contain the migration phenomenon in the short term, I think this is unlikely.”

The African Union Commission Chair and the Deputy chief of the United Nations insisted that changes were essential to realize the potential of Africa.

“At the halfway point of the 2030 agenda, progress on the sustainable development Goals is falling woefully short. Only 15% of the targets are on track to be met by 2030. And by any standard, that is a fail. With our dynamic and booming youth population, our wealth of critical minerals, and the vast renewable energy prospects in Africa, Africa could become a clean energy powerhouse and a digital service center, and the next great manufacturing hub of the world.”

Two dozen African leaders including William Ruto of Kenya were in Rome for the summit, the first major event of Italy’s Group of Seven presidency.

As the summit got underway, Italian green and opposition lawmakers planned a counter-conference at Italy’s lower chamber of parliament to criticize the Mattei Plan as a neocolonial “empty box” that seeks to again exploit Africa’s natural resources.

Alongside the Mattei Plan, Meloni’s government has forged controversial deals with individual countries to try to mitigate the migration burden on Italy.

An EU-backed deal with Tunisia aims to curb departures through economic development projects and legal migration opportunities, while a bilateral deal with Albania calls for the creation of centers in Albania to process asylum applications for Italy-bound migrants rescued at sea.

THE AUTHOR: Rédaction Africanews and A¨P

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