Let’s not waste the progress in the relationship with Africa

Date 06.01.2018

Those who, for work, continually cross the border that separates Europe and Africa have seen in the appraisal for this parliament (and the year) more positive signs than negative. Law 125/2014 regarding international cooperation has equipped our country with the necessary tools to not only stay close to our global “competitors” in development cooperation, but above all to face international crises that have now become chronic (from “Siraq” to the Sub-Sahara). I'm thinking of the constitution of the [Italian] Agency [for Development Cooperation], to the involvement of the private sector as a cooperation actor, to the Deposit and Consignment Office and its role - for now still being established - as a development bank, to the Italian National Cooperation Council. In parallel to all these developments, it is important to press the demands for transparency that not only come from the large institutional donors and international organizations, but also from small, private donors, especially after the hottest of summers for NGOs in the Mediterranean. In particular, it's a question that forces us to redefine the direction and meaning of our work in a time of migration that seemed unmanageable, of mutant terrorism, of the need for security.

The more this question grows, the more the standards imposed are raised, the more we care about the work because our country is demonstrating that it can play at this level. On the contrary: by showing itself capable of conquering a secure position in cooperation and international relations, it gains an economic dynamism. It becomes a protagonist in crisis areas. Just a snapshot: in this parliament, after many years of absence, Italian Governments of first Renzi, then Gentiloni have again been seen walking on African soil and presenting proposals for cooperation and requests for partnerships. The contribution that Italy made at a European level regarding Migration Compact, the care with which it presided over the drafting of the External Investment Plan and the blossoming of activities to support the process of what is considered the Marshall plan for Africa, are the first stages of a promising path. In his end-of-year press conference, President Gentiloni reiterated that "we must look to Africa, at its opportunities and its risks." It's the right spirit in which to avoid reducing the subject of Africa to an issue of business, considering it only as that irrecoverable place from where immigrants originate, for some to be rejected at all costs and for others are necessary to pay our pensions.

There is another turning point: there are signs of a new relationship between us and Africa, let's not waste them. It is the right moment because Italian public opinion understands how, in pace of the old colonialism, it is making space for an approach of an equal partnership, a leap of quality that corresponds with what the heads of African states asked for at the Abidjan summit. Relationships in which all the entities involved (governments, business, NGOs, civil society, third sector) can put their value all the way to the test and to bring home concrete results: therefore, business for business, development for those involved in development, participation and growth for those who have chosen this mission.