The Italy Africa Summit took place on January 28 and 29 in Rome, drawing attention to a proposed Mattei Plan for Africa and its potential implications for Africa’s development. Amidst these discussions, a letter to the Italian government from African Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), articulating key priorities and concerns regarding the summit’s agenda.

The letter, signed by various African CSOs including Laudato Si’ Movement, underscores the critical importance of African agency and self-determination in shaping the continent’s future. It is a call to action, emphasizing that Africa’s destiny must be determined by Africans themselves, free from the shadows of historical colonialism and external exploitation.

African leaders’ attendance at the Italy-Africa Summit raises questions about the extent to which they are driving the continent’s agenda. The prioritization of external initiatives like the Italy Africa Summit over regional initiatives like the G77 summit that just concluded in Uganda highlights the need for African leaders to assert their sovereignty and prioritize initiatives aligned with Africa’s development goals.

Looking deeper into relations between Africa and Italy

The increasing number of climate refugees underscores the urgent need for sustainable development strategies that address the root causes of displacement and migration. Africa’s vulnerability to climate change exacerbates existing challenges, making it imperative for development efforts to prioritize resilience-building and adaptation measures.

Critiques of the Mattei Plan highlight concerns about its origins, objectives, and potential impacts. Named after Enrico Mattei, founder of Italy’s national oil company ENI, the plan’s strong association with the fossil fuel industry raises questions about its alignment with Africa’s development goals. Transparency and inclusivity are essential to ensuring that the Mattei Plan reflects the genuine needs of African communities and remains non paternalistic to the people of Africa.

African CSOs’ Response

In response to the Mattei Plan, African CSOs have voiced their concerns and priorities. Under the Don’t Gas Africa Campaign, these organizations have issued a joint letter urging the Italian government to reconsider its approach. Their emphasis on building renewable energy infrastructure, promoting food sovereignty, and fostering economic empowerment resonates with broader calls for African self-determination.

Africa faces a myriad of challenges that hinder its development, including external debt burdens, limited fiscal policy space, and reliance on extractive industries. Overcoming these challenges requires concerted efforts to address structural deficiencies and promote sustainable development pathways.

As discussions unfold about the Mattei Plan, it is imperative to heed the voices of African CSOs and prioritize their concerns and priorities. By centering the needs and aspirations of African communities, true partnership and sustainable development can be achieved. The letter serves as a reminder that Africa’s future must be shaped by Africans themselves, in collaboration with global allies committed to justice and solidarity.