Earlier this month, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi was in Kenya to discuss trade ties and pledge support for counterterrorism operations in East Africa. In an email interview, Mattia Toaldo, a policy fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations, discussed Italy’s outreach to Africa.
WPR: How extensive are Italy’s ties with Africa, and what are the main areas of cooperation?
Mattia Toaldo: After the end of the Cold War, and with development aid money drying up, the Italian presence in sub-Saharan Africa quickly waned. But following a policy review conducted two years ago under then-Foreign Minister Emma Bonino, Italy has been strengthening its ties with the region. This policy review led to the creation of the Italy-Africa initiative, which includes renewable energy cooperation and a new package of development aid in fields stretching from health care to culture. Under Renzi, this policy has been stepped up.