Ethiopia, Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio with Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed
Minister Di Maio’s trip to Africa: 22 million Italian funding for agricultural projects in Ethiopia
The journey is over in Africafrom 12 to 14 June of the foreign minister Luigi Di Maio. Before departure a note of the Farnesina showed the itinerary on the map, with a stop first in Ethiopia then in Kenya. Somalia was later added to these two countries. # Africa, tweeted the minister, is a priority for Italian foreign policy therefore, according to news agencies, the meetings will lead to a “strengthening of bilateral relations”.
Landed at Bole airport in Addis Ababathe Italian delegation headed by the minister Di Maio is received “warmly”, as an institutional tweet writes, by the vice premier and foreign minister, Demeke Mekonnen. Then a meeting with Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and President Sahle Work Zewde is expected. Later with the Igad, for “collaborations and projects for regional stability and the fight against violent extremism”. Then with the African Union, the Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development and with Vera Songwe, from Uneca.
The main dish of the mission will come soon after with the meeting with the Minister of Finance, Ahmed Shilde. In fact, it is with him that Di Maio signs the loan of 22 million euros given by Italy to Ethiopia. A loan that will be addressed to the agricultural sector, in support and development of integrated agro-industrial parks (IAIP) in large rural areas of the country, in addition to the simultaneous increase in the number of Rural Transformation Centers. The aim is to create jobs in this sector, improve employee income and export earnings.
The Italian commitment reflects the Farnesina’s thinking towards Africa, as he wrote before his departure Di Maio in a letter addressed to the editor of the newspaper Avvenire. “The African continent has long represented an absolute priority of Italian foreign policy”. This explains the reason for the short trip. Africa it is a “vertical continent” interconnected with Europe and the Mediterranean, therefore the “common challenges” must be faced with “shared solutions”. And in this context, Italy will be the “bridge” over which collaboration can pass. Provided it is a “credible partner”. A credibility that would be testified by the minister’s twenty-three missions in Africa, plus those of Deputy Minister Marina Sereni, the last of which is in Ethiopia.
Now for Africa we must see the opportunities but also the challenges, explains the Minister, radicalism, extremism and the “migration phenomenon”, which Italy is well aware of.
A short but precise letter in which, however, there is no mention of wars. For example, no mention of what is happening in Ethiopia between the government and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (Tplf). A situation that over the past two years, after the clash triggered by the former ruling party, has involved the populations of at least three areas, Tigray, Amhara and Afar, causing a very serious crisis that is involving over 10 million people, and whose long shadow also touches the capital. In Addis Ababa today people are living worse than two years ago. Inflation and unemployment are the evils of the moment, even if the fragmented news coming out of the country does not allow us to have a clear picture of the situation.
However, the West, reading Le Monde, thinks that peace is upon us, after an uncertain truce. According to Western and African diplomatic sources who spoke to the French newspaper, peace discussions could begin in Tanzania at the end of June. This is the reason for the many trips to Ethiopia, between Mekelle and Addis Ababa, of Olusegun Obasanjonow special correspondent for the Horn of Africa ofAfrican Union (UA). Behind “secret negotiations” lies the work of Western chancelleries to put an end to the conflict and the humanitarian crisis in the country. Meanwhile, the World Bank has given Ethiopia 300 million dollars, while at the end of June the European Union will have to determine how to finance the recovery of the country, provided that the expectations of peace have been met.
On the peace talks Getachew Reda, spokesman for the TPLF, tweets that they will not give up the Welkait area, which has returned to being Amhara, if this were a precondition. A position inclined to peace, perhaps without preconditions, seems to be the one expressed in a letter published online a few hours ago by the president of Tigray, Debretsion Gebremichael, who would trust the Kenyan government for mediation.
As for the work in progress for a “secret” peace, however, the denial of Prime Minister Abiy has arrived who, responding in Parliament, assures that, unlike what Le Monde wrote, there are no “negotiations” of which the people are not aware. War was announced and, when there is, peace will be announced, he says. In the meantime, a special “committee” has been formed to prepare it.
Always in these hours Desalegn Chane, Representative Amhara said the peace negotiations should include themselves and Eritrea, as they both fought alongside the Ethiopian army against the TPLF attack.
Leaving Addis Ababa, the Italian delegation continues its journey to Somalia, the first mission after that of 2012 by Giulio Terzi, then foreign minister. Here Di Maio he greets the Italian contingent EUTM-S, meets the representatives of the Italian community, then is received by the President of the Republic Hassan Sheikh Mohamud. Somali institutional tweets underline “friendly relations between the two countries”.
Finally, for the Italian delegation it is the turn of Kenyastage that will put an end to the mission in East Africa. TO Nairobi Di Maio meets the foreign minister first Raychelle Omamo, then President Uhuru Kenyatta. Part of the program is the meeting with the Italian entrepreneurs present in the country and the visit to the Smart City, a project started in 2018, financed by Sace and Simest (Cdp Group) together with a group of banks led by Unicredit, which foresees the realization of a neighborhood for 200 thousand residents, with university and research centers.
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