Monday, April 15, 2024
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Italy rolls out $6 billion as partnership plan with Africa

  • Including initial pledge of €5.5 billion (US$5.95 billion)

The government of Italy had unveiled a near US$6 billion plan to
support African development at a one-day Italy-Africa plan in Rome,
with African Development Bank Group President Dr Akinwumi Adesina
and about 25 African leaders, with their European Union counterparts
in attendance. This took place as Italy assumed Presidency of the
G7, and a few weeks ahead of the 37th Ordinary Assembly of the African
Union in Addis Ababa.

Meloni said: “We believe it is possible to envision and write a new
chapter in the history of our relationship, a co-operation 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.

Speaking at a session on economic and infrastructure cooperation,
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 prioritized 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.

Others included, are the UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed, and
European Council President Charles Michel.

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