On June 12, Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio left Rome, kickstarting his mission to Somalia, Ethiopia, and Kenya.
According to the Foreign Ministry, “the visit, which Mr. Di Maio’r recent trips to Angola, the Republic of Congo, and Mozambique, confirms Italy’s interest in Africa, and the Horn of Africa in particular.” These places are at the center of the Italian international agenda, as evidenced by the 23 visits paid by Mr. Di Maio to several African countries, and the even more numerous ones by Deputy Minister Marina Sereni.
In a letter to the Italian newspaper Avvenire, the minister said that his mission in East Africa “intends to streenghten the contribution that our country wants to offer to the stability of an area rich in opportunities, but characterized by tensions that curb its potential for growth and progress”.
Mr. Di Maio visited Somalia first. He was the first Italian Foreign Ministry to visit the country in 10 years. The minister greeted the members of the Italian Military Contingent, met with representatives of the Italian and Italian-speaking community, and held a bilateral meeting with the new President of the Somali Republic, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud.
Somalia, which has been experiencing a situation of extreme fragility, insecurity, and violence, linked to the deep-rooted presence of the terrorist group Al-Shabaab, has recently completed the presidential elections. Hassan Sheikh Mohamud beat the outgoing president, Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed known as Farmajo.
In Addis Ababa, the minister met with the President of the Ethiopian Republic Sahle Work Zewde, the Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, and the Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Demeke Mekonnen. During the mission, Mr. Di Maio also met with representatives of the Italian business community in Ethiopia.
Italy boasts historical and intense bilateral relations with Ethiopia and a strong collaboration in the cultural and economic-commercial fields. Ethiopia is one of the priority countries for Italian Development Cooperation.
Finally, Mr. Di Maio visited the town of Konza and its new Smart City, that was build with significant Italian investment.