Italy is known to be one of the few European countries to have made remarkable difference in Africa with spectacular footprints of archetypal engineering works such as roads, bridges, Dams, Airports, schools and churches just to name but a few. Most of these unique works that display the grandeur of Italian artisanship can still be found in different countries all over Africa bearing the nostalgic marks of a special friendship it once shared with Africa. In fact most of the schools and churches built by Italians were either named after Roman Catholic Saints or the Italian founders themselves and are still known by those names to date.
In the past few years, Italy has made very bold steps to make its way back to Africa and regain its long lost glory. This has been done through robust Economic Diplomacy and strategic government policy efforts evidenced not only in Investments in Mega projects but also strategic partnerships which are slowly putting Italy in its rightful place as a pioneer in Africa.
One such initiative is the recent and most successful development towards a closer relationship between Italy and Africa through an Economic Forum created out of a partnership between the Ministry of Foreign affairs and International Cooperation and the African Diaspora, represented by IABW (Italia Africa Business Week), the first Economic Forum of its kind that has become one of the most important vehicles to bridge and sanify the gap of a reality that seems so far but yet so near.
The annual Business Forum which is sponsored by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation has been commended for its role in creating a platform for the African Diaspora in Italy to play a leading role in international cooperation and development by creating a strategic bridge for social, economic and political engagement between Italy and Africa.
IABW held its 6th edition, in an extremely successful two day event in Rome on the 16th and th17 that was co-sponsored by the Italian Agency for Development and cooperation (AICS), ICE-ITA and Cassa Depositi e Prestiti and which attracted well over 700 participants, from both Public and private sectors.
The participants who were drawn from Italy and several Countries of African included huge delegations from Ghana, Senegal, Ivory coast, Tunisia, Zambia and The Democratic Republic of Congo just to mention but a few. Among the prominent attendees from Africa were the President of the West African Development Bank Mr Serge Ekue, the Minister for information and Technology of the DRC Congo Mr. Kibassa Maliba Lubalala who was accompanied by Her Excellency the Mayor of Lubumbashi Madam Guylain Lubaba Buluma and the President of the DRC Congo Chamber of Commerce, the President of Tunisia Africa Business Council Mr. Aniz Jaziri, the Deputy CEO of the Ghana Investment Promotion Center Mr. Yaw Amoateng Afriyie, the newly appointed Zambian Ambassador to Italy Her Excellency Madam Patricia Chisenge Kondolo and the Mali Ambassador to Italy Mr. Aly Coulibaly.
The event was also graced by prominent participants from the Italian public and private sector among them the Director for sub-saharan Africa at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and international cooperation Amb. Giuseppe Mistretta, The Director General of the Italian Agency for Development and Cooperation Mr. Luca Maestripieri and the National Vice President of CNA(National Confederation of Artisans) Dr. Roberta Datteri among others
All the speakers stressed the importance of building strong cross border relationships between Italy and Africa, the President of Tunisia Africa Business Council for instance said that Italy had become one of the most important Trade partners to Tunisia and Africa in general but more needed to be done to Consolidate the partnership to make it even better in terms of the numbers. The DRC Congo Minister for Information and Technology instead invited the Italian Government to choose the DRC Congo as their entry point into the Central African region and Africa as a whole. He said The DRC was keen to become the technological hub in Africa and would be happy to partner with Italy to realise the dream. One of the Keynote Speakers Mr Luca Maestripieri who is also the Director General of the Italian Agency for Development and Cooperation coined a compelling statement to capture the mood of the event saying “We will win the global challenges if we are able to win them in Africa”. The Executive President Mr. Cleophus Adrian Dioma and the CEO Mrs Meret Tewolde in thanking the participants, reiterated their commitment to making the forum bigger and better in order to achieve the desired goal of creating a solid platform on which to build mutually beneficial social economic and political relationships between Italy and Africa. The event was crowned by the signing of two very important MOUs, one with Tunisia Africa Business Council to link Italian and Tunisian companies and another with the West African Development Bank for Collaboration in launching the IABW Sustainable Development platform which will kick off next year and aims to create a digital platform dedicated to the establishment and development of business networks between Italian SMEs and those of the UEMOA(Western Africa Economic and Monetary Union) Zone countries. “The main objective of the project is to promote inclusivity in Economic Development in the sub saharan region, exchanging information and contacts between existing business networks in order to verify their sustainability and enhance their activities. It is also meant to promote the emergence of new transcontinental enterprises and business networks as well as the enabling of networking with public and private financing mechanisms for their growth and developments” said the Executive President of IABW Mr. Cleophus Adrien Dioma.