ROME: The government of Italy unveiled a near US$6 billion plan to support African development at a one-day Italy-Africa summit in Rome during the recent Italy-Africa Summit in Rome, Italy.
The summit—which took place as Italy assumes the Presidency of the G7 this month, and a few weeks ahead of the 37th Ordinary Assembly of the African Union in Addis Ababa—was one at which Italian Prime Minister Georgia Meloni called for a new Italian partnership with Africa.
Meloni said: “We believe it is possible to envision and write a new chapter in the history of our relationship, a cooperation among equals, far from any predatory imposition or charitable stance towards Africa. There is a natural inclination for Italy to be a bridge between Africa and Europe. The whole world cannot think about the future without Africa.”
The Italian leader announced various initiatives designed to bolster economic links and create an energy hub for Europe while curbing African emigration to Europe. They included an initial pledge of €5.5 billion (US$5.95 billion) including guarantees.
African Union Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki welcomed the pledged support, while noting that prior consultation with the African continent would have been desirable, particularly when the Mattei Plan was being drafted. He said the plan, nonetheless, aligns with Africa’s priorities.
African Development Bank Group President Dr Akinwumi Adesina highlighted the African Development Bank Group’s key role in supporting African countries. He said Africa’s economic trajectory was compelling.
“With a population of 1.4 billion, the largest youth population in the world, the largest renewable energy sources in the world, the largest deposits of critical minerals and metals globally, and the largest share of uncultivated arable land left in the world, Africa will determine the future of the world,” Adesina said.
The African Development Bank Group head underscored Africa’s economic resilience, noting that despite global economic headwinds of climate change, conflicts, and a health pandemic, the continent had stayed strong, with real GDP growth of 4.1% in 2022, higher than the global average of 3.5% for the same period.
To address a key challenge to Africa’s accelerated development, notably a large infrastructure financing gap of roughly US$68–108 billion annually, he told leaders that the African Development Bank had invested $44 billion in infrastructure over the last seven years. He said this was for the development of ports, railways, transport corridors, energy and digital infrastructure.
The Bank Group chief commended the Italian government for the Rome Process Financing Facility, which will provide €100 million (90% of which is concessional financing) towards support for infrastructure in Africa, especially for renewable energy, energy efficiency projects, water and sanitation, and agriculture initiatives, as well as vocational training and job creation. He welcomed Italy’s ‘Mattei Plan for Africa,’ which he acknowledged had prioritised energy security.
Adesina addressed the challenge of illegal migration from African countries, stressing that it was critical to continue to support economic growth and development of African nations, reduce fragility and build resilience.
The President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, called for a united front in cracking down on people smugglers. She said: “The best way to do this is to join forces and crack down on the criminals, and in parallel, build alternatives to the deadly smuggling routes,” she said.
The President of the European Parliament, Roberta Metsola, said: “When Africa prospers, Europe prospers and the whole world can.”
African leaders who addressed the summit were the African Union Chairperson, President Azali Assoumani of Comoros, President Macky Sall of Senegal, Ghanian President Nana Akufo-Addo, Kenyan President William Ruto, President Denis Sassou-Nguesso of the Republic of Congo, and President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud of Somalia. Others were President Emmerson Mnangagwa of Zimbabwe, President Kais Saied of Tunisia, President Filipe Nyusi of Mozambique, President Isaias Afwerki of Eritrea, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed of Ethiopia, and Prime Minister Ulisses Correa e Silva of Cabo Verde.
Other prominent figures included UN Deputy Secretary General Amina Mohammed, International Monetary Fund Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva, and European Council President Charles Michel.