In a bid to position itself as a European gateway for African energy, Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni announced a groundbreaking partnership with African nations on Monday. The plan, which was unveiled during a one-day summit attended by over two dozen African leaders and European Union officials, aims to strengthen economic ties, establish an energy hub for Europe, and tackle immigration challenges.Thank you for reading this post, don't forget to subscribe!
While Meloni expressed optimism about the summit’s success and highlighted potential cooperation areas, criticism emerged from some participants, including Moussa Faki Mahamat, the chairman of the African Union Commission. Mahamat emphasized the necessity for Africa to be consulted on priorities and stressed the urgency of moving from promises to concrete actions. He underscored the frustration with unfulfilled commitments, calling for a more results-oriented approach.
Despite Italy’s claim to ownership of the plan, skeptics argue that the nation, burdened by heavy debts, faces stiff competition from global players like China, Russia, and Gulf states. Concerns over Italy’s ability to compete and deliver on its commitments have raised questions about the plan’s feasibility and effectiveness.
During a post-summit news conference, Meloni acknowledged the importance of translating promises into tangible projects on the ground. The prime minister emphasized the need for collaboration with the private sector and international bodies, such as the European Union, to ensure the initiative’s success.
Energy needs stand at the core of Italy’s initiative, with the country aiming to serve as a gateway for African natural gas into European markets. The plan gains significance in the context of the European Union’s efforts to diversify energy supplies following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Italy’s largest natural gas importer, Eni, has already increased shipments from Africa to counterbalance reduced supplies from Russia. Algeria, Egypt, and Libya are slated to be Italy’s main gas suppliers in the coming years.
Additionally, Meloni emphasized the importance of bolstering industry and agriculture in Africa to strengthen local economies, addressing one of the root causes of migration. Italy aims to dissuade young Africans from migrating north by investing in economic development.
However, Italy faces challenges on the migration front, with 157,600 boat migrants reaching its shores in the past year, the highest number since 2016. Meloni’s electoral promise to halt unauthorized arrivals remains unfulfilled, adding a layer of complexity to the nation’s immigration strategy.
As Italy embarks on this ambitious plan, the international community watches closely, questioning the nation’s capacity to compete, deliver on promises, and effectively address the intricate challenges posed by migration and economic development in Africa. The success of Italy’s vision hinges on translating rhetoric into meaningful actions and navigating a landscape of global competition and complex socio-economic dynamics.