On 16 January 2022, the Director of the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation (AICS), Luca Maestripieri, was welcomed in Mogadishu – the capital of Somalia – by the Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Abdisaid Muse Ali.  In the previous days, Luca Maestripieri had been visiting Kenya.

In Somalia, the news was made public on social media by Minister Ali, who announced the meeting through a tweet. In Italy, the news was reported by “Africa e Affari“, an online monthly magazine focused on the African continent.

The meeting offered the opportunity to “exchange views on Italy’s development strategy towards Somalia” and to “thank Italy for its long-standing support of Somalia’s reconstruction and economic development efforts“, Minister Muse Ali said.

In fact, the Italian Cooperation Agency started operating in Somalia in the ‘50s, on the basis of the trusteeship mandate conferred by the United Nations to Italy. At the time, Italian Cooperation projects focused on technical and economic assistance to the African state. During the period in which President Siad Barre was in government and even after the collapse of the Somali State, Italian Cooperation continued operating in the country.

Somalia's Foreign Affairs Minister, Abdisaid Muse Ali
Foreign Minister Abdisaid Muse Ali

In recent years, since the beginning of the civil war in 1991, Italian Cooperation has changed its focus, concentrating more on civilians and their primary needs, due to the protracted political instability and the recurrent natural disasters that have hit the country. The last few years have been particularly difficult for the Somali population.

Despite the grim situation, characterized by a serious political crisis and difficulties in entering the country over the past years, Italian Cooperation has never ceased to carry out its operations in Somalia. In fact, it has always been committed to responding to the needs of the nation, developing strategies and implementing both emergency and reconstruction initiatives.

The delicate and uncertain situation in Somalia has prompted many donor countries and UN agencies to increase their support – both economic and non-economic – in order to give practical help to the population.Their goals are to restart the sectors vital for economic reconstruction and recovery, as well as to promote political dialogue and the construction of new productive institutions.

Italian President Mattarella meets Somali President Farmajo in Rome
Italian President Mattarella meets Somali President Farmajo in Rome

Among these donor countries, Italy is one of the most active, always occupying a place in the “top five”. In the last ten years, the Italian Cooperation has approved funding for €120 million, to finance initiatives aimed at supporting health services, education and economic development and the reconstruction of institutions in Somalia.

“The visit of AICS Director to Somalia demonstrates the importance that Italy attaches to its partnership with Somalia and underlines Somalia’s commitment to advancing its bilateral relations with Italy”, added Minister Ali.