The THIRD issue of Atlantis of 2019 (AUTUMN), dedicates the Dossier to the theme Africa, opportunities and problems of Ambassador Giuseppe Morabito through the prestigious collaboration with the Circle of Diplomatic Studies of Rome,
The appointment with the great historical events of the years ending in nine with the Ascent of Cavour continues.
In this issue, the column on Mondo e Malattie with Cardiopatie Valvolari continues.
The focus country, signed by Domenico Letizia, is dedicated to Turkey and Syrian immigration.
Attention to the beautiful book by the journalist Eleonora Lorusso on Nave Vespucci.

Editorial: Is an assertive foreign policy asking too much?





The second mandate to a government of Giuseppe Conte has just been confirmed by the vote of the Chambers and it is already discussed whether it will last until the end of the legislature or, like the previous one, it will have suffered shortness of breath and legs cut by the many differences that distinguish the two parties that support it and, within the parties, the many different souls that compose them.


However, there are foreign scenarios, in this that for a long time a World in Disarray has been defined, which leaves no way out for indecision and lack of field choices.


Now we need a revival of our diplomacy and a minister who wants to lead it along less steep paths than those explored by the previous government - underlined Franco Venturini - given that according to the President of the Council in Brussels we sent a very appreciated representative.


Our foreign policy is therefore a recognized priority.


There is no need to dwell on the choices (free or conditional) that led Di Maio to the Farnesina but it was an unexpected choice in many ways.


On the agenda there are immediately: margins of flexibility granted by Europe also thanks to the German and migrant difficulties and Libya.


The attitude towards Europe has now radically changed, after Salvini's karakiri sovereignty and the first message arrived when the new government had not yet been born and the 5 Stars voted for the presidency of Ursula von der Leyen together with the European Pd included in the European parliamentary group of socialists.


Europe and the entire West are experiencing a difficult transition and must be able to know who to count on.


This government has started off on the right foot in this regard. Unless the idea of ​​winking one day in Moscow and another in Washington begins to resume.


It is one thing to talk to Moscow and Beijing and one thing is to talk to the Allies.


In any case it would be opportune to distinguish between emergencies and role.


Emergencies: migrant issue: overcoming Dublin through a network of agreements; the Libyan civil war, which is part of the same migrant issue, must finally be faced with a different attitude.


Role: tentenna here tentenna there, there are to be clarified some points of no small importance, such as the memorandum of intent with China. Is it possible that the Chinese strategic style has not yet been understood? But above all it would be time to return to the degasperiana era, when Italy's role in European construction was decidedly constructive and not vindictive.

Given that this Europe, if not to be redone, is at least to be reviewed, that Italy should put some good ideas on the partner table and maybe include it in the global puzzle of this World in Disarray.

Dossier: Africa today, problems and opportunities

Africa today, problems and opportunities


Speech at the Master of Geopolitics and Global Security, La Sapienza.

From the book "Letters on the World" Global Observatory Series 

directed by Domenico Vecchioni - Mazzanti Books, Venice 2019.


Giuseppe Morabito




In the introduction I would like to say that I will talk about sub-Saharan Africa and not about Africa tout court. North Africa, which goes from Morocco to Egypt, is different from sub-Saharan Africa: the first is linked to Europe for over two thousand years of history, the second since two centuries, from the era of great geographical explorations and then of colonialism.

Until the end of the last century, the prevailing opinion in Italy on Africa was that of a poor continent, dominated by hunger and famine, by diseases (malaria, tuberculosis, AIDS), by the difficulty of access to drinking water and to the electricity, where the civil wars were mostly bloody, just think of the child soldiers in Sierra Leone and Liberia.

Then, starting in the year 2000, people began to understand that Africa was not the stereotype that was spread: it was a continent made up of countries whose economy grew quickly and from countries increasingly characterized by the consolidation of democratic regimes. A continent, in other words, not only of problems, but of opportunities, in particular for our economy.

When Foreign Minister Franco Frattini wanted me as General Manager for the countries of sub-Saharan Africa, Africa, except for historical reasons, the Horn of Africa (Ethiopia, Eritrea and Somalia), came from a period of marginality in the our foreign policy. Frattini understood this and tried to revive our presence in Africa south of the Sahara (in the north we were and we are firmly present, no excluded country).

Today we have entered a third phase, in which attention to Africa risks being almost exclusively dominated by the problem of migration towards Italy in particular and towards Europe in general. Instead, it is clear that Africa cannot be reduced to the sole issue of migration.

What is Africa today? Or maybe it wouldn’t be more correct to talk about Afriche? Africa is a continent that is changing rapidly: just think of the strong increase in population, the very rapid urbanization process, the growing spread of democracy, states whose economies are growing at levels in Italy that cannot be imagined. It is a continent of opportunities, but also of challenges. Economic opportunities: just think of investments, not only in oil and other raw materials, but in the construction of infrastructures, or in trade; and it is a continent of political opportunities, such as those deriving from a strengthening of relations with states that are essentially on the southern borders of Europe. Africa is also a continent of challenges: just think of those represented by prevention and the fight against terrorism; from the consolidation of democracy and therefore from a greater general stability and peace; from climate change, whose consequences appear particularly serious in Africa; from development; from the same migrations.

What are the aspects that most characterize today’s Africa? Let’s try to enumerate them without claiming to be exhaustive, to end with what Italy is and could be.

1. Demography. Let’s start with demography, which is still a fundamental element in the current geopolitics. Africa is becoming increasingly important, particularly for Europe, not only because it is geographically close to us, but because of the high population growth. In the early fifties, when the only independent states were Ethiopia (which at the time included Eritrea), Liberia, Sudan and the South African Union, the population of all of Africa, including the North, was around 230 million inhabitants, while Europe was just under 600 million. Today Africa has 1 billion and 200 million inhabitants, which at the current rate is expected to become 2.5 billion in 2050 (it is estimated that 56% of newborns in the world from today to 2050 will be African), while Europe has just over 700 million inhabitants, including European Russia. This happens because the annual growth rate of the population in sub-Saharan Africa is now around 2.7%, much higher than the average of the other continents.

It is not certain that the demographic forecasts for 2050 will come true, also because they are long-term, but what is certain is that the demographic growth of Africa is impressive and, except in rare cases, as in South Africa and in some minor states , significant reductions in the birth rate have not yet occurred. Some examples make the question clearer: Nigeria, which had 30 million inhabitants at the beginning of the fifties, today has nearly two hundred million, which should become four hundred in 2050. Ethiopia: it has grown from 16 million inhabitants to beginning of the 1950s to the 90s today. The highest fertility index in the world (which measures the number of children per woman) is in Niger, with over 7 children. The birth rate now gives a measure of the natural growth of the population, also because thanks to the general and now consolidated improvement of hygienic - sanitary conditions mortality is everywhere sensibly decreased. Among the top forty countries in the world with the highest birth rate, as many as thirty-six belong to sub-Saharan Africa (by way of curiosity the remaining four are Afghanistan, East Timor, Iraq and Egypt). The reality is that in Africa the birth rate remains high, in contrast with what has occurred and is happening in the rest of the world. We all know the case of China that with coercive systems (the “one child” policy per couple, from 1979 to 2015), has for years succeeded in successfully containing the population increase; but also other states, without coercive demographic policies, have registered a stable fall in the birth rate. To talk about the most populous, just think of Indonesia, Thailand, South Korea, Brazil, Vietnam, Turkey, Iran, India itself.

Now, a strong demographic development, on the one hand means that Africa will count more in the geopolitical balance of the world: if today one inhabitant out of six is ​​African (it was one out of twelve in the early fifties), and it is expected that in 2050 will be one in four, it is clear that the weight of Africa in the world is growing. We then think of a state like Nigeria which aspires to become a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, as indeed is another African country, South Africa: well, it is clear that Nigeria’s claim has more weight if it is a country of two hundred million inhabitants and not forty.

On the other hand, a strong demographic development poses challenges to which we must respond, if we do not want to feed an audience of desperate people, starting with that of the labor market where every year a much higher number of people appears than new jobs jobs that are created. Here the figures are not precise, also because the informal economy is very widespread in Africa, but to give an idea, it is estimated that out of thirty million new inhabitants, fifteen seek work each year, while the new places created annually are equal only two to three million.

2. Migration and the question of development. The migratory phenomenon is one of the most significant aspects of contemporary Africa, although obviously it cannot monopolize, much less exhaust the discourse on Africa. Some clichés must be debunked on the migration phenomenon. The first is that most migrants go to Europe. In reality, those who leave Africa go not only to Europe, but also to other continents, particularly in North America. Indeed, while after the 1960s most emigrants were heading mainly to the ancient colonial powers (such as Great Britain, France, Belgium), new destinations have been added, especially since the beginning of this century: Germany , Holland, Portugal, Spain, Australia, Canada, United States, Italy itself.

The second common place is that the Africans who emigrate leave the continent to go and settle elsewhere. In reality, most of the Africans who emigrate go to other African states (to find work, easier living conditions, better education, even to find a wife), and therefore do not leave the African continent.

It is true that for some years now the number of those leaving the continent has been gradually increasing compared to those who emigrate from one African state to another, and in this regard it should be noted that on a global scale the number of migrants from sub-Saharan Africa it increases in percentage more than from other regions of the world, except only with regard to the MENA countries (Middle East and North Africa); despite this, Africa is still underrepresented from a migratory point of view worldwide.

Some figures are very clear in this regard: in 2017 there were 258 million migrants in the world: 106 million came from Asia, 61 from Europe, 38 from Latin America, and 36 from Africa. According to the United Nations, in 2017, of the twenty states with the highest number ever of migrants, only one was in Africa (Egypt, which is not part of sub-Saharan Africa), eleven in Asia and six in Europe.

 The intra-African migrations are therefore still particularly intense. They are facilitated primarily by the porosity of the boundaries. Then there is the tendency of populations to move to establish themselves along the coast (a phenomenon common to many other countries in the world). Then there are the cultural and linguistic affinities that favor migration. Another factor that attracts migrants is the cities: in Africa there is a strong push towards urbanization, however with very high percentages (up to 95%) of people living in slums. There is what Romano Prodi has called an “accidental urbanization”, that is, not controlled, in proportions that do not occur in Latin America or Asia.

Intra-African migrations are also favored by two factors: a broad and diversified nature of the economy (it is no coincidence that there are many African immigrants in states with these characteristics, such as the Ivory Coast, South Africa and Nigeria) ; the existence of traditional “corridors” of migration, such as the one between Burkina Faso and the Ivory Coast and the one between Zimbabwe and South Africa.

Another common place concerns the thesis according to which the majority of migrants emigrate to escape from conflicts or civil wars, whereas, according to the UNHCR, most are economic migrants, people who essentially seek better living conditions . It has also been observed that there is no migration from the absolutely poorest states (another common place that must be dispelled), which are often “land-locked” states, that is, landlocked, but from states that have reached a certain level of income. In the latter there is a population that not only can more easily find the financial means to travel abroad and enter a new country, but which also has a clearer view of the opportunities that emigration can offer. Finally, an element that emerged recently, even if difficult to quantify, should not be overlooked: climate change, so much so that we are talking today about “climate migrants”.

Emigration evidently has negative effects, given that often the most prepared elements go away: it is the “brain drain”. However, it should also be said that another phenomenon is widespread, the “brain waste”, which concerns all those prepared and educated elements that are underpaid at home (often living in corrupt countries or those excessively dependent on foreign aid). Emigration also has positive aspects: the emigrants’ remittances make a considerable contribution to local economies, as well as having the advantage of being more stable than the flow of direct investments, which is anything but negligible. Another positive factor is represented by migrants who return to their countries of origin, not only provided with financial resources, but with skills and knowledge acquired abroad that they can apply at home.

In Africa, including the north, remittances have gone from 8.8 billion dollars in 1990 to 69.5 billion in 2017, a considerable increase, albeit from relatively low figures. Numbers that give the idea of ​​how remittances can improve living conditions in the countries of origin, contribute to the development of the local economy, improve education and health. This explains why it is not in the interests of African governments to hinder emigration: in addition to the economic advantage of remittances, emigration is considered a relief valve for the population’s discontent and helps to reduce unemployment.

Given that the migration phenomenon remains a structural fact, in the sense that it can be contained and regulated, but not completely arrested, there is discussion on what to do to curb or at least control emigration from Africa. A widespread thesis is that according to which Africans will no longer leave their continent when they have reached a level of life high enough not to make it inconvenient to face the inconvenience of changing countries. In reality, before Africans reach a per capita income close to the European one (given that one speaks above all of African emigration in Europe), many years will surely pass. Moreover, as the European case demonstrates, where there are strong population movements even among states with comparable living standards, the difference in the income level is not enough to explain the migratory phenomenon, being more complex the factors that push an individual to emigrate.

Another thesis, shared but certainly not exhaustive, is that according to which migration from the African continent can be held back by the creation of adequate social protection systems in Africa: in other words, what is often lacking in Africa is a State that protects citizens, who ensure their education and health, guarantee everyone the possibility of social and economic growth.

Some have supported the thesis of “circular migration”, which would have the advantage of not giving rise to excessive fears about the arrival of immigrants in the host countries. In reality, circular migration, in addition to being necessarily a limited phenomenon in numbers, is very limited between Africa and Europe (a little less with regard to neighboring northern Africa), and also in the rest of the world it has not assumed considerable proportions: I am reminded here of the case of agricultural workers who go from Colombia to Spain, from Haiti to the United States, or from Tonga and from Vanuatu to New Zealand.

To curb immigration there is much talk, in part improperly, of “Marshall Plan for Africa”, on the model of what the United States did for Europe at the end of World War II. Except that in the case of Europe, unlike Africa, it was a question of rebuilding infrastructures and factories destroyed by war, in countries where there was a skilled labor force or in any case trained and used to working in the factory or in the construction sector. Furthermore, the Marshall Plan, even at the time of its peak, has never exceeded 3% of the GDP of the beneficiary countries (2.5% in France and Germany), while many African countries already receive aid well above the percentage, with moreover controversial effects on development. This does not mean that targeted interventions that favor the development of the Sahel, fight against desertification, create alternative sources of income for populations living in poverty or income from trafficking in human beings, are not useful. Here, however, we must be careful. Without opening a debate on development policies, I cannot fail to mention a Zambian economist, Dambisa Moyo, who a decade ago became famous for a very critical book on public development aid, “Dead Aid”. Moyo’s thesis was that public development aid (ODA / Official Development Aid) paradoxically hampers development and this for a whole series of reasons: it creates dependence on development in the populations that receive aid, and above all in the ruling classes; feeds corruption; encourages disagreements between different ethnic groups to grab aid; restrains the formation of an indigenous entrepreneurial class.As for corruption, there would then be an aggravating circumstance: while corrupt regimes in Asia have a tendency to keep capital acquired fraudulently at home, those in Africa would prefer to take them abroad. Moyo added that it is difficult to counter public aid for development, because the lobby that supports it is too strong: among the officials of the United Nations system, of the Development Agencies of donor countries, of NGOs, it would be an army of over five hundred thousand people worldwide. These are paradoxical theses, but in all paradoxes there is always a fund of truth, and it is good to take this into account in order to avoid the temptation that development cooperation is the way to solve the problem of migration.

Speaking of corruption, unfortunately a recurring theme when it comes to Africa, it was certainly favored, after independence, by the East-West confrontation. This prompted the two main contenders to support corrupt regimes, one for all that of Mobutu in the former Belgian Congo. It is also the thesis of the Rwandan President Kagame, according to which the Cold War has produced clientelistic regimes.

On the subject of corruption, a question that arises is whether it curbs development or not. The answer is obviously positive, because it discourages investors and donors, as well as increasing development costs and not favoring an optimal allocation of resources. However, it must also be said that there are corrupt countries, such as China, Indonesia and Thailand, which have developed. China, which in the seventies was poorer than states like Burkina Faso or Malawi, is now much richer, thanks to a development driven by foreign investment and exports.

Another question that arises is whether democracy favors the development of the economy or vice versa. There are certainly states that have become democratic thanks, even if not exclusively, to economic development, such as Chile, Taiwan, Singapore. On the other hand, to promote foreign investments a democratic regime is not necessarily indispensable: in fact, a legal framework and institutions that protect investors’ rights and give legal certainty are sufficient, which is not the exclusive prerogative of democratic systems. On the contrary, it can be said that a democratic government may appear to the most guaranteed and more predictable foreign investor in its economic and fiscal policy interventions of a dictatorship or regimes subject to sudden changes through violence.

3. Political systems. A little known element of change in Africa concerns political systems. The period that followed the decolonization, carried out between the end of the Fifties and the beginning of the Seventies with the independence of the last colonies, the Portuguese ones, was characterized by authoritarian regimes, military dictatorships, frequent coups d’état, leading economies or statist type; in recent years, on the other hand, there has been a gradual spread of democratic systems, a more frequent non-violent alternation of power and a liberalization of the economy.

From 2015 to today there have been only “electoral” or “peaceful but not electoral” leadership changes, according to the words used by the specialized organizations that deal with these issues. Until the year 2000, there were numerous “violent” changes; on the other hand, “electoral” changes were very rare until 1990. Today the multiparty system is increasingly affirming, while until a few years ago the dominant model was that of the military dictatorship, or of a civilized but one-party regime. However, although decreasing, there is still a tendency to remain in power for too long, so much so that some African republics are more like monarchies. Just think, for example, of the President of Equatorial Guinea, Obiang, who has been in office since 1979; in Biya, in Cameroon, since 1982; in Museveni, Uganda, since 1986; in Sassou Nguesso, in Congo, since 1997; in Kagame, Rwanda, since 2000.

A recent innovation in the African political landscape is the growth of civic movements. These are developing almost everywhere: in Senegal, in the Ivory Coast, in Burkina Faso, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, in the Congo, in Cameroon, in Togo, in Madagascar, etc. These are movements that demand more democracy and participation, fight gerontocracies and presidents for life, criticize corruption. I am in favor of African unity, for the liberation of women, for the defense of the environment and against the monocultures from which many African economies still depend. Certainly, these are still embryonic groups and we will have to see what rooting they will be able to have in the future; moreover they often have as leaders references related to the immediately post - colonial period. Charismatic leaders, however, according to a Congolese scholar and politician who has lived in Italy for many years, Jean Lèonard Touadi, have made serious management errors, albeit partly under the pressure of the cold war, and have not been able to to respond to the challenge of the national construction process of the respective countries.

4. The phenomenon of violence. If we think of the past, when violence was instrumental for changing government, or conflicts between states or inter-ethnic conflicts were frequent (one for all: the brutal slaughter of the Tutsis by the Hutus in Rwanda, in 1994), today the violence does not it has certainly disappeared, but has changed its nature. There is the new phenomenon of Islamic terrorism and there are disorders and episodes of crime in large urban centers. The latter, in particular, are an expression of the malaise of the population and are often needed during election campaigns. The violent phenomena are concentrated in a T-shaped region, which runs from west to east, starting from Nigeria, Mali, South Sudan, to get to Somalia, and from north to south, starting from the Central African Republic (RCA), passing through the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Burundi, to get to South Africa. According to some indicators, such as that of the ACLED (Armed Conflict Location and Event Data), the violence is concentrated in particular in some States (the so-called “top States with armed organized violence”) that is, in order of intensity of violence: Somalia, Nigeria, South Sudan, DRC, South Africa, Sudan, Kenya, Mali, Ethiopia.

The phenomenon of Islamic terrorism is in some ways the most worrying and in any case it is for Western interests. Meanwhile, not being based on ethnicity, but religious, it can mobilize many more people under a common Islamic identity, rather than smaller groups on a local or ethnic basis. Secondly, the collapse of Gaddafi’s Libya first, and the end of the Islamic State in Syria then, helped to expand terrorist cells in Sahelian Africa, where Al Qaeda was already present in the Maghreb, with which they they are welded. Thirdly, it should not be forgotten that terrorism, in addition to the aftermath of mourning, is a powerful brake on development (who invests where there is a high risk of abduction?). The main groups are Boko Haram (concentrated in northeastern Nigeria and northern Cameroon), those affiliated with ISIS in the Sahel, Al-Shabaab, which has raged for decades in Somalia and northern Kenya. As for the Boko Haram alone, the Nigerian government has calculated that this terrorist group would have caused over 33,000 victims and forced 2,600,000 people to change housing. Even more worrying is the fact that Islamic terrorism is not, however, confined to the countries indicated above.

The fragility of some state systems contributes to creating fertile ground for the development of terrorism. And here we see how much more generally the problem of “governance” is essential if we want to control the political tensions within African states. In fact, in Africa there are states that exercise effective sovereignty (such as Senegal, Ghana, Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda, Angola, Mozambique, South Africa, Botswana), and states that they would exercise a “decorative sovereignty”, as it was defined with a term if we want picturesque (DRC, RCA, South Sudan, Mali, Niger, Guinea Bissau). On the other hand, weak national governments favor the proliferation of adverse and conflicting sub-national groups and in any case are not a credible obstacle.

Last but not least, extreme poverty, especially youth unemployment and growing inequality are all factors that favor the development of terrorism. As regards inequality, which has increased throughout the world in recent years, it must be said that according to the GINI coefficient, Africa has a particularly high concentration of wealth, which aggravates the social problems of countries that are already very poor.

The existence of numerous different ethnic groups (it was calculated that there would be a thousand in sub-Saharan Africa and 400 in Nigeria alone) is finally a factor that increases the probability of civil wars or at least of violent tensions.

5. The African integration process. The process of regional integration in Africa proceeds albeit slowly. Certainly the involution that European integration is undergoing (starting with Brexit) does not help, also because in Africa we looked very much at the European Union as a model of integration, especially economic. There is the role of the African Union (which was once called the Organization of African Unity and was ironically defined as the union of African Heads of State), and which now increasingly aspires to be the driving force of the integration process of the continent. And there is the role of the so-called RECs (Regional Economic Communities), eight of which are recognized by the African Union for all of Africa, which include groups of states from a certain region. In some cases there are also Member States of two different regional economic communities, which certainly does not help the integration process, which is already complex in itself. These are somehow original organizations that could play an important role in the future.

The push for regional integration is political (strengthening unity among African states) and economic (stimulating growth and development). Among the Regional Economic Communities that have proved to be the most dynamic I would like to mention the SADC (Southern African Development Community), although the Republic of South Africa, the EAC (East African Community), the ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States). In the political field, one of the roles of these Communities, under the aegis of the African Union and often of the United Nations, is to implement conflict prevention actions (as in the case in particular of ECOWAS). Also in the economic field a role of the Regional Economic Communities is increasingly taking shape, aimed at integrating the economies of the Member States. In this field also the African Union itself tries to make a contribution and in some ways it is good. We have in fact realized that greater economic integration is a factor of development. Thus at the African Union Summit in Kigali (Rwanda), on 21 March 2018, 44 African States established the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA, or AfCFTA / African Continental Free Trade Area) which aims to create a zone of free exchange of goods and services, and to foster the movement of people and capital. The agreement will enter into force when 22 Member States have ratified it. So far Ghana, Kenya and Rwanda have ratified it, followed by Chad, Niger and Swaziland; while they signed 49 states, after South Africa, Lesotho, Burundi, Namibia and Sierra Leone were added to the initial 44. An important State like Nigeria has not yet signed, due to the opposition of the entrepreneurial and trade union circles that fear repercussions on the internal market of trade liberalization. South Africa itself had not signed in Kigali. More generally, it has been noted that often the political will for greater integration of economies is lacking: African states fear losing part of their sovereignty and fear a decline in revenues deriving from the reduction or abolition of duties.

Incidentally, the CFTA was preceded in 2015 by an agreement, the Tripartite Free Trade Area (TFTA), signed between 26 States belonging to COMESA (Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa), SADC and the EAC.

That of an economic integration of African countries started with the Continental Free Trade Area is a long process, but I believe it will be done.

Why is an African common market important? African states export mainly raw materials (such as oil and other mineral resources of which the subsoil is provided), and commodities (cocoa, coffee, etc.) outside the continent.

In recent years, African countries have diversified outlet markets, which have expanded (the case of the foreign trade boom with China is emblematic), but not exports, so there are states that depend on the export of one or very few products (the same Ivory Coast, whose economy is proving particularly dynamic, depends largely on cocoa). Instead with regard to intra-African trade, African states among them export mainly manufactured goods (almost 70% of their foreign trade). It is clear that with the creation of a common market new prospects for exports will open up, in particular for manufactured goods, to the benefit of the local industry. An increase in sales abroad will have two positive effects: an increase in the income of those employed in the export sector; a strengthening, given that it makes them more competitive, of exporting industries.It is true that this will occur in a framework in which there are few States that have a discreet industrial structure: apart from South Africa, which has a consolidated manufacturing base; Kenya, Mauritius and Uganda have an emerging manufacturing sector, as does Ethiopia. However, it is believed that a free trade area will stimulate the growth of the manufacturing sector in countries where this is still embryonic. Another important aspect is the following: the traditional manufacturing sector, together with the agricultural-food sector, is the one that creates more employment, being highly labor-intensive.

If we consider that today the intra-African trade is equal to only 20% of the African foreign trade, we understand the margin of growth that this can have. Furthermore, an integrated market more easily attracts foreign direct investments, particularly productive ones, thanks to the opportunities offered by the existence of a larger market.

However, to develop trade it is not enough to reduce duties and non-tariff barriers, but it is necessary to create adequate infrastructures at continental or at least regional level. This is to avoid paradoxes like the one that costs more to send a container from Kenya to Burundi, than from Great Britain or from Belgium to Kenya.

6. Economy. Sub-Saharan Africa has had high growth rates since 2000 (5.5% on average from 2000 to 2014). There was then a decline in the following two years, due to a particularly severe drought and the trend in the prices of raw materials on the global market, but the economy in 2017 started to grow again and according to the forecasts of the International Monetary Fund should grow by 3.1% in 2018 and 3.8% in 2019. They are sustained rhythms, even if an increase in the annual population around 2.7% largely reduces their impact on the standard of living of the inhabitants. These are obviously predictions and a lot will depend on the trend of world markets, on the price of raw materials, on the consequences that the war of duties will have on international trade and on the world economy.

It is interesting to note that among the countries that grow the most there are no oil producers nor are there countries that are mainly dependent on the export of raw materials, as is the case, for example, with the Ivory Coast, Kenya and Ethiopia. from Mali, Uganda, Tanzania, Senegal, Rwanda. According to IMF forecasts on the increase in per capita income (so the increase in GDP adjusted for the annual growth of the population that in Africa as we have seen is particularly high), in 2018 we should find the top places for growth rate : Ethiopia (+ 5.8%), Ivory Coast (4.7%), Rwanda (4.6%), Burkina Faso (4.4%), Senegal (4%), Tanzania (3.7%), Ghana (3.6%).

It should also be noted that some landlocked states, on which a scholar such as Paul Collier, author of the essay “The Bottom Billion” has investigated, recorded high GDP growth rates: Ethiopia, Burkina Faso and Rwanda are proof of this.

The case of Ethiopia, whose economy is growing at a rate of over 8% per year, is particularly interesting. It is a country that has focused on the development of infrastructures, on the opening to the international market and on the growth of manufacturing industry, also through the creation of industrial parks. With regard to the manufacturing industry, the development of the textile, leather and simple mechanics sectors should be noted.

Conversely, the economies of South Africa, Angola, Congo, Gabon, Zimbabwe and Burundi appear to be less dynamic or almost stagnant. These last two countries are in the grip of political convulsions or have a ruling class that has not proved to be up to date. South Africa is very rich in raw materials (except oil), while Angola, Congo and Gabon are all three oil producers. Even the economy of Nigeria, the first in sub-Saharan Africa, after years in which oil extraction had flashed a strong development of the economy, has rates of growth of national income that are lower than those of the rate of population growth, with the result that per capita income decreases. Also according to the International Monetary Fund, in 2018 the per capita income should decrease in Equatorial Guinea (highly dependent on oil), South Sudan, Angola, Burundi, South Africa, Congo.In these years, a large boost to development was given by the international financial flows that between 8.8 and 2009 reached 8.8% of GDP, driven by remittances from emigrants (2.6%), from foreign direct investments ( 2.5%) and from official development assistance (2.4%). The emigrants’ remittances were, for all of Africa, 65 billion dollars in 2015, four times the values ​​of the early 2000s, while for sub-Saharan Africa alone they amounted to 35.2 billion dollars. Noteworthy is the fact that foreign investments, which are proving to be the real engine of growth in Africa, have been particularly dynamic not only in resource-rich countries, but also in land-locked and resource-poor ones. In addition to international financial flows, a boost to economic growth was given by the price of commodities, better management of the economic system, and a reduction in debt service (thanks also to the cancellation of the debt itself).

As for foreign direct investments, now mainly concentrated in the oil and mining sector, as well as in the acquisition of land for agricultural production, a future frontier is constituted by investments in the manufacturing sector, as in the case of Ethiopia, where the cost labor is as low as in Bangladesh and labor productivity is similar. Just in Ethiopia, the Calzedonia textile group has recently made an investment of 12 million euros which, once fully operational, will create 1,200 jobs. China, instead, the first investor in Africa, where it is active in the construction of infrastructures and in the agricultural sector, has not so far appeared to be interested in investments in the manufacturing sector, preferring the nearest Asian countries with infrastructures and human resources considered prepared.

A key element to attract foreign direct investments was the more favorable climate created thanks to the reforms put in place by various African countries. According to the World Bank report “Doing Business 2019”, among the top ten countries in the world that in 2017-2018 made the greatest progress in the field of economic reforms necessary to attract foreign investment, five belong to sub-Saharan Africa and are in the order: Djibouti, Togo, Kenya, Ivory Coast and Rwanda. Still according to the World Bank, more generally, the average costs and time of registration of a company are gradually decreasing in Africa. Moreover, among the 190 States taken into consideration by the World Bank index of “Doing Business”, as regards the states of sub-Saharan Africa we find in the top one hundred places: Rwanda (in 29th place, before countries such as the France, Holland, Switzerland), followed by Kenya (61st), South Africa (82nd), Botswana (86th), Zambia (87th), Sychelles (96th) and Djibouti (99th). This is reliable data, but not to be considered exhaustive of the potential of an economy: for example, it is surprising that a dynamic country like Ethiopia, the first as a GDP growth rate, appears only in the 159th place of the aforementioned ranking.

It may seem like a detail, but it is worth emphasizing the role, in some ways surprising, played in the development of the African economy by some technologies. First, the widespread use and use of mobile phones. In 2000 only 1.7% of the population had a cell phone; in 2016 this percentage had risen to 74%. Around mobile phones has grown what is called “mobile economy” which today accounts for about 7% of sub-Saharan Africa’s GDP. Mobile phones are used to make financial transactions, for example in Kenya; in Niger they are used by farmers to exchange information (and here we see the importance of renewable energies, such as solar energy, for the development of rural areas, given that it would be too expensive to electrify all of Africa by traditional means). Today all African states, except Eritrea and Guinea Bissau, are connected to submarine cables with regard to internet connections. The use of drones that are used in Rwanda to bring blood and in the Ivory Coast for monitoring and mapping of agricultural crops is growing

7. New international actors in Africa. Today in Africa there is a whole series of new international actors, different from the traditional former colonial powers (France, Great Britain, Belgium, Spain, Portugal, Italy itself), and the superpowers of the cold war like the United States and the one that today is Russia. This fact shows that international interest in the African continent is growing.

Several countries have appeared in sub-Saharan Africa, some through the opening of new embassies, such as Brazil, or new air connections and embassies, such as Turkey (Turkish Airlines with 52 routes in Africa is the foreign airline with multiple destinations). Brazil and Turkey are expanding their presence in Africa for economic reasons, but also because they have political objectives, such as being able to exert greater influence and, with regard to Brazil, pursue the project of becoming a permanent member of the Security Council, within the framework of a possible reform of the United Nations system. Incidentally, with regard to air connections, it is interesting the policy pursued by Ethiopia through its national airline, Ethiopian Airlines, which has successfully developed links with most African states. In this way, Ethiopia, the new emerging African power, has added to the centrality of being Seat of the African Union (Addis Ababa), that of air connections.

Then there are the Asian powers: China in the first place, but also South Korea, Japan and now India, in search of energy, raw materials, food products and outlet markets for their goods. And then there are some Arab states that are looking for opportunities for investment and agricultural products in Africa such as the United Arab Emirates and other Gulf states. The case of China is interesting: in particular, it is the acquisition of land for agricultural exploitation (China has 20% of the world’s population and only 7% of arable land), of the search for raw materials and oil for its own industry, the construction of large infrastructures to promote commercial penetration and extend political influence. Thus the influence of China in Africa is increasing, even if the “Silk Road” project seems to have put the African continent in the background.

8. Italy in Africa. Before concluding, some brief comments on Italy. For decades our attention has been almost exclusively directed to the Horn of Africa, of which three of our four former African colonies (Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia) are part. A partial exception was development cooperation which extended its range of action to other African regions, although often to respond to Italian national needs and not so much based on a defined strategy. Over time an interest in African markets has developed, starting with the oil-producing countries (where we had and have a strong presence of ENI) and those who had large infrastructure construction plans. In fact, the Italian construction industry, which was very strong until the 1970s and at the time of IRI, had long years of eclipse, only to return to being present in a competitive way in sub-Saharan Africa, more or less starting from the years around the year 2000.

For some time now, the interest in migrations seems to prevail, having grown very much following the senseless war that brought down the Gaddafi regime, which made Libya an unstable state. It would be self-defeating for our interests if attention to Africa was monopolized by the migration phenomenon. The reality is that the stability and prosperity of Africa is a fundamental interest for Italy, as well as for Europe. The southern strategic border of Europe has shifted from the Mediterranean towards the Sahel, given the increased instability of northern Africa which does not only concern Libya but, albeit to a much lesser extent, the other states in the region.

The stability of Africa is essential for our security, just think of the spread as a metastasis of Islamic terrorism in states close to us that could directly threaten Italy.

The prosperity of Africa is in our interests for several reasons: it puts a brake on uncontrolled emigration; reduces the reasons for discontent increased due to the growing inequalities and to the growth rates of the economy that are not sufficient to keep pace with population growth; but above all it constitutes an opportunity for our companies, from the big ones (oil sector, infrastructure) to the small and medium ones.

Italy has tried to respond to these multiple challenges, trying to be more present in sub-Saharan Africa: we have 22 Embassies against 19 of some years ago (we opened recently in Burkina Faso, Guinea and Niger) and above all it was that tendency that had emerged aimed at closing offices was interrupted; we have five ICE offices (Angola, Ethiopia, Ghana, Mozambique, South Africa), against the two we have had until recently, to which are added four “desks” (Djibouti, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda), and in perspective a fifth in Rwanda (I make this list that may seem pedantic, because it is indicative of the countries where the interest of Italian companies is growing). SACE is present with an office in South Africa and is planning to open a second one, in West or East Africa (there is talk of Kenya).

Visits at government level intensified: in the period 2014 - 2018 the Presidents of the Council, Renzi and Gentiloni, visited Angola, Congo, Ivory Coast, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique , Nigeria, Senegal; President Conte was in Ethiopia and Eritrea to bring Italian support to the normalization of relations between the two countries; the President of the Republic Mattarella himself visited Cameroon and Ethiopia. It should be emphasized that these visits increasingly have economic goals, another element of novelty in our foreign policy towards Africa.

On 24-25 October the Second Italy-Africa Conference was held in Rome, two years after the first (2016), following roughly a model of success that various countries of the world have adopted, such as China, Japan, the India. Italy is the first European investor in Africa and the third in the world (with 11.6 billion dollars in 2016), after China and the United Arab Emirates. We are present in particular with ENI (Angola, Nigeria, Congo, Ghana, Mozambique, Kenya, South Africa) and with Salini - Impregilo (the Gilgel Gibe dams in Ethiopia, the railways in Cameroon and Gabon). Enel Green Power is present in the renewable energy sector (wind and solar), in South Africa, Ethiopia, Senegal and Zambia. After years of decline, official development assistance reached 0.29% of GDP in 2017 (against 0.15% in 2004). We are the second contributor to the EU Trust Fund for Africa. As far as civil society is concerned, the commitment of our NGOs and Catholic missions must be remembered, as well as the political and humanitarian commitment of the Community of Sant Egidio.

Sant Egidio is a special case. Regardless of the success of the negotiation for the peace process in Mozambique (Rome agreements of 1992), the Community intervenes in various African states with projects in the health field, such as DREAM, initially intended for the treatment of AIDS, which now also aims, as well as basic health care, cancer prevention and treatment, a disease more widespread than in the past because the average age has risen. Furthermore, the Community of Sant’Egidio had the great intuition to create the so-called “humanitarian corridors”, to bring migrants safely to Italy and integrate them into our society.

The formation of military and police forces deserves a separate discussion. We are present in the training of Somali military personnel with the EUTM (European Union Training Mission) in Mogadishu; in Djibouti the Carabinieri form the Somali and Gibutine police, as well as supplying equipment; in an EU-funded project, the Carabinieri, along with the counterparts of France, Portugal and Spain (respectively the Gendarmerie, the Guardia Nacional Republicana, the Guardia Civil) form and equip operational intervention companies in Mali, Chad, Mauritania and Senegal . We are present with a small military contingent in Niger. The police force of Uganda, Rwanda, Namibia and Zambia also formed the Carabinieri. In the latter country, as well as in Uganda, the training also involved “ranger” units for the protection of national parks, important for the protection of the environment and a source of income for local populations. The Guardia di Finanza, for its part, offers training courses at the School of the “green Basques” of Orvieto (with an operational focus: how to make a roadblock or a search, control of the airports, etc.) and in Rome ( tax police school, anti-money laundering). Finally, we participate in the European mission against piracy off the coast of Somalia, as well as holding courses for diplomats and magistrates.

I have dwelt on the formation of police forces for several reasons. First, because it is a sector in which Italy certainly has an added value compared to other countries. Secondly, in this way we contribute to the stability of the beneficiary countries and, as far as the Sahel is concerned, to the control of the borders and therefore to the fight against terrorism and human trafficking. Thirdly, we create relationships with armed and especially police forces that in the future could always be useful. Finally, these are interventions that all in all cost relatively little.

More generally, as far as the Sahel is concerned, the idea is not just to help the states of the region better control the borders (a task that is also difficult given that it is thousands of kilometers in the desert), but to intervene in favor of the local populations, in particular those that profit from the trafficking of human beings.

9. What to do in Africa. Can Italy do more in Africa? Meanwhile, it must be said that Italy enjoys a sympathetic capital in Africa. Without a shadow of rhetoric, we are considered a country open to dialogue and listening. In my opinion it is something that I believe is now part of our DNA, which derives from our culture, not from a “good-natured” attitude as we would say today, dictated by alleged or true historical remorse. Italy is a country that does not have “hidden agendas”, and this is a bit because we are reluctant to have them and we understand that in the long run they cause more problems than advantages; a little because maybe we are not able to have them. However, the fact of not having ulterior motives or “hidden agendas” is always very much appreciated.

In the economic field we have important strengths: our model of SME still little used in Africa is suitable for that continent; the “model” followed by ENI, which also takes on qualified personnel, like engineers, and implements social interventions in the villages of the areas where it operates; the renewable energy sector; a low environmental impact agriculture; the conservation of biodiversity and together with this the theme of “food sovereignty” carried out by Slow Food. Here I would like to mention the Slow Food initiative “Ten Thousand Gardens for Africa”, a project that creates employment, curbs wild urbanization, safeguards local production and helps preserve biodiversity by making African farmers less dependent on large foreign multinationals .

Starting from these strengths, can we do more? First of all, I believe we should give more continuity to our foreign policy, bearing in mind that international relations are consolidated in the continuity and constancy of even personal relationships.

Secondly, we should be more present in the economic field, expanding the range of companies that invest or do business with Africa, encouraging and supporting them in a concrete way. Here the commitment of our diplomatic network can make the difference, especially if you send young people to the first destination who are capable and Heads of Mission they want to do and are not at the end of their career. I remember in this regard what I was told by the then CEO of ENI, Paolo Scaroni: “When I go to Africa and meet a young Ambassador, I think of an emerging diplomat; when I meet an Ambassador at the end of my career, I wonder what he did wrong. “

Thirdly, we should better value the presence on the territory of the so-called Italy system (unfortunately abused term), starting with the widespread dissemination of religious bodies, NGOs (secular and Catholic), virtuous enterprises and in any case respectful of local populations. Essentially “networking”.

Fourthly, we should strengthen the tendency that has emerged in recent years to organize “country presentations”, provided they are not self-referential events, but give a clear perception of the opportunities that exist in Africa and create useful contacts to develop future economic relations and commercial. We are, I believe, on the right track. Positive examples in this sense, it seems to me, are the last Italy-Africa Summit, which was preceded by an ad hoc event for entrepreneurs, and the “Country Presentations” that ANCE (our Association of Construction Builders) dedicates to individual states of sub-Saharan Africa.

Fifthly, we should pay more attention to the African Union, where everything is discussed, including economic issues that could be of interest to our companies, and to the BAD, the African Development Bank, which recently returned its headquarters to Abidjan. The recent establishment of an Italian Permanent Representative at the African Union I believe goes in the right direction, on condition that we do not limit ourselves to making reports that end up in the ministerial drawers, but we succeed in stimulating the interest of the economic, cultural and scientific world Italian against an Africa that is changing.

More generally we are called upon to give answers to the great problems of today’s Africa, and in this sense our role in Europe, thanks also to the knowledge we have of the African continent, should not be underestimated. I am thinking here of the problem of development, in particular with regard to the construction of infrastructures, sustainable agriculture, protection of biodiversity; to the issue of migration, which however one sees things, must be regulated, knowing that they are destined to remain a structural phenomenon; to climate change, which leads to increasing desertification, sudden floods and droughts; to the management of fundamental and limited resources such as water that could become sources of conflict (think of the problem of the Nile waters vital for the very existence of Egypt, but which affect ten other African states, namely Sudan, South Sudan , Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and the DRC). Then we have a political role to play, particularly where we are traditionally present, such as in the Horn of Africa. Here we could be called to accompany a fundamental peace process such as that between Ethiopia and Eritrea, a region where we have historical responsibilities.

That of the unexpected normalization of the relations between Ethiopia and Eritrea, which for decades have lived in a state of semi-war, is one of the positive innovations of today’s Africa. On 15 September 2018 a historic agreement was signed in Jeddah (in July the two countries had ended the state of war), by the Ethiopian Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed, and by the Eritrean President, Isaias Afewerki, in the presence of the Saudi king Salman Bin Abdelaziz and with the blessing of the United Nations that lifted sanctions against Eritrea. The links between the two countries have been reopened, as have the respective embassies. This is an epochal turning point not only for the signatory States, but in perspective can have beneficial effects on the contiguous Somalia, for a long time a “failed state”, a fief of Islamic terrorists and on Djibouti. In fact, Somalia has already been involved in the normalization and pacification process, with three-way meetings, including the Somali President, Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed Farmajo. And also Djibouti appears destined to be an active part of this process. It is a region close to important crisis areas (Middle East, Yemen), relevant for the African balance, where Italy has long been present and is still appreciated: the Horn of Africa could therefore once again become the bench a test for a relaunch of our presence in Africa, which starting from the mutual interest to collaborate on the basis of mutual respect, keep in mind that if Italy has changed, Africa is also changing quickly.



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