Italy Tries to Make Up for Lost Time in Africa

Italy Tries to Make Up for Lost Time in Africa
Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi meets with Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, July 14. 2015 (Photo from the Office of the Italian Prime Minister).

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.

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