On 25 October, the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, also known as the Farnesina, held a conference on the cooperation between Italy and Africa. This was the second in a series of conferences on this topic organized by the Farnesina, the first of which was held in 2016.

The conference discussed shared solutions to the main challenges facing Africa and Italy in the fields of peace, freedom, democracy and security.  The conference further identified common paths for growth, in which Italy could play a part by leveraging its expertise and presence in the European Union. 

Representatives of 46 African countries attended the meeting, 34 at ministerial level, while 13 international organizations were represented, including the African Union.  In total, 350 delegates attended the conference.

ICCROM’s Director-General, Dr Webber Ndoro, attended the meeting in the framework of ICCROM’s proposed new programme to support young heritage professionals on the African continent, which he presented during the session’s Panel III, dedicated to human development, culture, education and mobility.

In his remarks, Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Enzo Moavero Milanesi, hailed the meeting as "marking an occasion to develop structured dialogue between Italy and the countries of the African continent in full demographic and economic growth.” The conference emphasized peace, freedom, security and fair socio-economic development as essential rights of all people and underlined that these conditions are fundamental for development to take place. It was noted that given the recent peace agreement signed by Ethiopia and Eritrea, and considering also that 31 elections are scheduled in Africa next year, such conditions were currently better on the continent than they had been during the first Italy Africa conference held two years ago.

As Italy is already amongst the main investors in Africa, the conference aimed to analyse carefully the prospects of bilateral economic and investment collaboration.  Space was reserved for intergovernmental organizations, universities and research institutions to identify and deepen useful cooperation forums in education and academics.

Both Minister Moavero and Italy’s president Sergio Mattarella emphasized the role and importance of culture in development and ensuring sustainable economies. In this regard, cultural interchange between Africa and Italy was seen as particularly important, considering the unique Italian experience in this regard and the immense, variety and vibrancy of the African cultures. The role of the youth in the development of Africa’s economy was also highlighted.  This emphasized the need to engage the youth and stimulate growth and provide solutions to problems such as migration and education.  Hence the relevancy of the new Africa programme for young heritage professionals proposed by Dr Webber Ndoro, Director-General of ICCROM.

The Italy-Africa conference, as Minister Moavero recalled, "represents a precious and unique moment to get to know each other better, talk, listen to each other's point of view and the real needs of each individual, on the issues that bind us and future. It is precisely in this perspective that Italy also considers it essential that the European Union guarantee a more intense and effective use of financial resources."

For his part, Vincenzo De Luca, Director-General for promotion of national systems at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, presented an integrated promotion project entitled “Italy, Culture, Africa”, during which he emphasized the role ICCROM places on the promotion of cultural heritage conservation.

At the end of the conference, Minister Moavero and MAXXI Museum director Giovanna Melandri accompanied the participants on a visit of the MAXXI Museum of Contemporary Art, where they viewed the temporary exhibition "African Metropolis: an imaginary city" featuring work by 34 artists reflecting on the on-going social and cultural transformations of the continent.

In the course of the conference, Farnesina ministry officials proposed a meeting with ICCROM in order to develop a programme for 2019.

Speech of Italian president Sergio Mattarella at the Italy Africa conference -

At the conference, Dr Webber Ndoro had the opportunity to meet the following dignitaries:

African countries

  • H.E. Deng Dau DENG MALEK, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, South Sudan
  • H. E. Mohcine JAZOULI, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Affairs Cooperation, Morocco
  • H.E. Augustine MAHIGA, Minister of Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation, Tanzania
  • H.E. M. Lejeune MBELLA MBELLA, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Cameroon
  • H.E. Ababu NAMWAMBA, Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs, Chief Administrative Secretary, Kenya
  • H.E. Oryem OKELLO, State Minister of Foreign Affairs, Uganda
  • H.E. Samuel Otsile OUTLULE, Ambassador to Belgium, Botswana
  • H.E. Momodou TANGARA, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Gambia

Regional and international organizations:

  • Amir ABDULLA, Deputy Executive Director, WFP
  • Irene KHAN, Director General, IDLO
  • Firmin Eduard MATOKO, Assistant Director General, UNESCO
  • H.E. Kwesi QUARTEY, African Union Commission Deputy Chairperson
  • H.E. Vera SONGWE, Executive Secretary, UNECA