A closer look into Italy’s Africa initiative


Italy’s recent Africa initiative, spearheaded by Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, promises a shift towards mutually beneficial cooperation between Italy and African nations. However, beneath the surface rhetoric of partnership lies a complex web of power dynamics and historical responsibilities that demand closer examination.

Meloni’s pivot from far-right rhetoric to a sanitized discourse on cooperation reflects Italy’s desire to assert itself as a significant player in EU foreign policy. The government’s pledge of over €5.5bn in funding for various initiatives in African countries appears generous at first glance. However, a deeper analysis reveals a lack of sustainability and transparency in the proposed investments.

The so-called “Mattei plan” aims not only to address migration issues but also to bolster Italy’s influence over EU strategic interests, particularly in energy imports. By aligning with EU allies and courting key figures like Ursula von der Leyen, Meloni seeks to position Italy as a reliable partner in addressing regional challenges.

Yet, criticisms from African Union Commission Chair Moussa Faki and civil society groups highlight the top-down nature of Italy’s proposals and the lack of consultation with local governments and communities. Concerns about the potential exploitation of natural resources echo historical patterns of colonial extraction.

Furthermore, Italy’s failure to confront its colonial past and address present-day inequalities within its borders undermines the sincerity of its partnership rhetoric. The legacy of Italian colonialism in Africa, coupled with ongoing issues of migrant exploitation and citizenship rights for African-Italians, underscores the need for meaningful action rather than empty promises.

Meloni’s assumption that colonial injustices can be rectified without confronting systemic inequalities is both patronizing and inherently flawed. True cooperation between Italy and Africa requires a commitment to dismantling oppressive structures and empowering marginalized communities on both sides of the Mediterranean.

Italy’s Africa initiative represents a missed opportunity to truly redefine the relationship between Europe and Africa based on equality and mutual respect. Without addressing the historical injustices and present-day inequalities that continue to shape this relationship, any notion of cooperation remains superficial at best.


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