As proof of the primary importance that Italy attributes to its relationship with Africa, the Conference hosted at the Farnesina will open with remarks by the President of the Republic, Sergio Mattarella, and close with remarks by Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte.
Based on the awareness that the fate of Africa and Europe are and always have been tightly interconnected, the aim of the Conference is to find shared solutions to the largest challenges in the area of peace, freedoms, democracy and security, and to single out common paths towards growth, especially by involving qualified Italian players from the world of industry and business, academia and non-governmental organizations.
The Conference focuses special attention on the extremely positive developments under way in the so-called Horn of Africa following the peace agreement between Ethiopia and Eritrea, to which Italy intends to assure its utmost support, as testified by the working meeting between Minister Moavero and the Foreign Ministers of Ethiopia and Eritrea, organised at the beginning of October on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly and followed up by the recent visit by the Italian Prime Minister.
More generally, the extraordinary state of ferment of the African continent is particularly striking: an authentic festival of democracy to be held between the end of 2018 and the beginning of 2019, with up to 31 elections on schedule. This situation was unimaginable only a decade ago. Unfortunately, however, these comforting results continue to go hand-in-hand with conflicts and economic crises which are trying to be overcome. Both in the upturns and downturns, the Italian Government confirms its commitment to stand by its African friends. Its commitment is tangible and it is sufficient to mention Italy’s participation in the principal UN and EU-led peace-keeping missions (13) in Africa, its intense local institution-building activities, its struggle against violent extremism and illicit trafficking, its specific action to foster the stabilisation of Libya and the current political process based on the UN’s action plan.
Peace, liberty, security and equitable socio-economic development are the unalianable basic rights of all people and of all populations. Europe, which has succeeded to put an end to centuries of fratricidal wars through a decades-long integration process, must stand by Africa in its current phase of development. The two continents have patently complementary economic systems, offering many still untapped opportunities; let us not forget that African average growth rates are very high, around 5%.
The Conference at the Farnesina thus aims to make an in-depth analysis of the economic cooperation and investment perspectives (Italy is already among the major investors in Africa). Moreover, our Country and our university and research systems are interested and willing to identify and expand areas of cooperation with counterpart African institutions in the field of training and education. Lastly, it will be impossible not to focus on the area of cultural exchange, especially in view of Italy’s great vocation and singular experience and the huge and fascinating variety of the millennia-old African cultures and their current-day vivacity. In the light of all these considerable opportunities, we are confident that we will be able to draw positive stimuli for the youth of Africa and Italy with the necessary foresight. Such an approach should also benefit the necessary search for adequate solutions to better manage migration flows and combat all types of illicit trafficking.
The Foreign Ministry’s Italy-Africa Conference, repeats Minister Moavero, “represents a valuable and unique opportunity to get to know each other better, talk to each other and listen to each other’s point of view and real needs on the issues that link us now and might connect us in the future. It is precisely in this perspective that Italy also considers it essential that the European Union guarantee a greater and more effective provision of financial resources to the next EU Multiannual Financial Framework. On the part of Italy, we are thoroughly motivated to act in this sense at the negotiations in Brussels and, among other things, support the introduction of new and genuinely autonomous sources of revenue for the Union’s budget.”
Lastly, we point out that, consistently with the spirit outlined above, culture will be the real ‘guest star’ at the opening session on the evening of 24 October. Guests and conference participants will convene at the MAXXI Museum of Contemporary Art, where Minister Moavero Milanesi and the museum director, Giovanna Melandri, will guide them through the permanent exhibition and the thematic exhibition “African Metropolis: an imaginary city”. The event will also include the presentation of the integrated promotion project entitled “Italia, Culture, Africa” that the Foreign Ministry will launch in 2019 through its diplomatic and consular network to consolidate Italy’s ties with the African continent.