Meloni Seeks to Position Italy as Europe’s New Face in Africa Amid Criticism


Italy’s Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni is pushing to make Africa a central theme at this year’s G7 summit, aiming to establish Italy as a crucial energy hub between Europe and Africa. This move comes amid skepticism regarding the clarity and financial backing of her vision.

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A dozen heads of state are expected to attend the three-day forum in Puglia, starting Thursday, to discuss global politics. Africa, climate change, and development will headline the initial session, highlighting Meloni’s ambition to project power in Africa through the so-called Mattei Plan.

The Mattei Plan envisions Italy as a bridge for distributing gas from Africa and the Mediterranean to Europe, while supporting economic growth to mitigate mass migration from Africa. However, critics argue that the plan focuses more on investment than development, involving financial institutions, banks, and private and state-owned companies, with minimal involvement from NGOs and humanitarian organizations.

Meloni seeks partnerships, funding, and legitimacy at the G7, leveraging her recent victory in the European Parliament elections to enhance her standing as Europe’s rising star.

**Strategic Move or Short-Term Gain?**

Maddalena Procopio, a senior policy fellow in the Africa program at the European Council on Foreign Relations, views Meloni’s strategy as appealing both to voters and businesses. “Africa is seen as an opportunity to grow by diversifying energy partners and resources,” Procopio said. With Africa holding significant mineral and natural gas reserves, the continent is pivotal as Western nations aim to reduce reliance on Russian gas. Italy, currently receiving nearly 40% of its gas imports from Algeria, is strategically positioned.

Observers also note Italy’s geopolitical aspirations, aiming to fill a gap as France, a major competitor, faces setbacks in Africa. Italy’s lighter colonial history and non-paternalistic approach could appeal to African partners, especially amid rising anti-French and anti-American sentiments in Francophone Africa.

**Skepticism and Criticism**

Despite Meloni’s ambitions, there is skepticism about the viability of the Mattei Plan. During the Italy-Africa summit earlier this year, Meloni outlined five investment areas—energy, agriculture, water, health, and education—along with pilot projects, but critics found the proposals vague and largely a rebranding of existing initiatives. Bernardo Venturi, head of research and policy at the Agency for Peacebuilding NGO, noted the plan lacked new financial resources and substantial consultation with African partners.

Furthermore, the foreign ministry and experienced NGOs have been given minimal roles, raising questions about the plan’s international reach. Critics from human rights groups accuse Meloni’s government of disguising anti-immigration policies as energy investments. Meloni’s election campaign heavily focused on addressing migration, and her government has faced accusations of impeding search and rescue operations in the Mediterranean.

An Italian official, speaking anonymously to Al Jazeera, dismissed the initiative as mere narrative, saying, “There is no such thing as the Mattei Plan.”

**Source:** Al Jazeera

By Naija247news
By Naija247news
Naija247news is an investigative news platform that tracks news on Nigerian Economy, Business, Politics, Financial and Africa and Global Economy.

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