Italy's Meloni opens Africa summit to unveil plan to boost development

Summary:

Italian Premier Giorgia Meloni opened a summit of African leaders on Monday aimed at illustrating Italy's big development plan for the continent that her government hopes will stem migration flows, diversify sources of energy and forge a new relationship between Europe and Africa.

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Italy's Meloni opens Africa summit to unveil plan to boost development

the plan got a lukewarm and cautious reception initially, with African Union Commission Chairman Moussa Faki Mahamat telling the summit that African countries would have liked to have been consulted before Italy rolled out its plan.

"We need to pass from words to deeds," Faki, the former prime minister of Chad, told the summit. "We cannot be happy with promises that are never maintained."

Two dozen African leaders, top European Union and United Nations officials and representatives from international lending institutions were in Rome for the summit, the first major event of Italy's Group of Seven presidency.

Italy, which for decades has been ground zero in Europe's migration debate, has been promoting its development plan as a way to create security and economic conditions that will create jobs in Africa and discourage its young people from making dangerous migrations across the Mediterranean Sea.

In her opening,

Meloni outlined a series of pilot projects in individual countries that she said would enable Africa to become a major exporter of energy to Europe, to help wean it off its dependence on Russian energy following Moscow's invasion of Ukraine.

The government's plan, named after Enrico Mattei, founder of state-controlled oil and gas giant Eni, seeks to expand cooperation with Africa beyond energy but in a non-predatory way. The plan involves pilot projects in areas such as education, health care, water, sanitation, agriculture and infrastructure.