By Shout-Africa – ROME- A real partnership needs to see Africa as an opportunity and not just as a problem for the rest of the world.
The point was underscored by Foreign Minister Franco Frattini, speaking at the conference on “Italy and Africa Partners in Business”.
As Frattini sees it, moving on from the “assistance-based” approach of the past means “meeting not just the needs of Africans, who today are asking not just for aid but for investment, but the needs of the Italian business community too. Our firms have everything to gain from an increasing, and increasingly important, Italian presence in
“The time for development aid is over”, he said, “and that form of assistance must end. It’s time for stable investment that takes root in Africa itself and generates new development”. The Minister mentioned the country presentations (next on the schedule are Kenya and Uganda). This innovative approach puts the Italian trade organisations and business community in direct contact with African countries’ political leaders and the heads of their investment promotion agencies.
Frattini pointed out that “it is not just a slogan” to speak of Africa’s central role in international relations. Without a close relationship based on collaboration, “we cannot fight terrorism or drug and people trafficking. Nor can we tackle climate change, which first and foremost is hitting Africa” (the Congo basinhas the world’s second “green lung”). “And without Africa”, the Minister continued, “we cannot address the energy security issue – an issue that is particularly sensitive for a country like Italy, a major gas and oil importer”.