Giorgia Meloni, the prime minister of Italy, is preparing to reveal her ambitious strategy for Italy’s involvement in Africa. Her goal is to establish Italy as a leader in European collaboration with Africa, with the aim of reducing illegal immigration.
The proposed Mattei plan, named after Enrico Mattei, the founder of Eni oil company, will be unveiled in Rome on Monday to various leaders from Africa and Europe, including Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission.
In October 2022, shortly after her far-right government was inaugurated, Meloni revealed her Africa strategy. The primary objective of the plan was to establish Italy as a leading energy hub in light of Europe’s efforts to reduce its dependence on Russian gas.
While specific information about the plan’s overall extent is currently limited, a preliminary order that was approved in November proposes that Italy adopt a “non-predatory” approach to assisting African nations in various areas such as education, healthcare, exports, and infrastructure.
One of Meloni’s main goals is to assist African economies in thriving, with a condition of reducing the number of migrants coming from Africa. However, she has yet to fulfill this promise made during her election campaign.
The significance of the plan is so great to Meloni that her office will be responsible for implementing it. She went as far as organizing the summit at the Palazzo Madama, where the Italian senate is located, which was met with criticism by opposition parties who accused her of “taking over” the building.
“I fail to understand the issue,” stated Lucio Malan, the senate’s main enforcer, in an interview with the Guardian. “It’s simply a matter of reputation and will not hinder the senate’s operations in any manner. The fact that such a significant occasion is being held in the senate, a historic palace adorned with art and rich in heritage, will leave a favorable impression of Italy.”
According to Malan, Italy has always considered the African continent to be strategically significant. He noted that Tunisia is closer to Sicily than Rome is, emphasizing the importance of the region. The plan is also intended to strengthen Italy’s influence in a continent where other countries, such as Russia and Turkey, have already established a strong presence.
The summit will be joined by leaders from 23 African countries and organizations, such as Moussa Faki, the head of the African Union Commission. In November, Meloni fell for a prank call from two Russian comedians who convinced her that she was speaking to Faki.
According to Francesco Galietti, the creator of Policy Sonar, a political consulting firm in Rome, Meloni has been working on arranging this summit for a considerable amount of time. She is promoting it as a significant strategy, which has garnered a lot of interest. However, there is still uncertainty surrounding the participants, the funding, and the nature of the summit – whether it will focus solely on diplomacy and soft power or involve more significant actions.