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Monday, 26th December 2016
Amb. Grace Akello with President Sergio Mattarella, President of Italy

In this year's annual Christmas message to diplomats in his capital of Rome, President Sergio Mattarella has underlined the value of investment on the African continent. "Investing in the development of Africa", he stressed, "is tantamount to investing in the future of Europe". The Italian President said that his country is looking forward to a peaceful future in which open dialogue with neighbors, both within the Mediterranean area and Africa, can be pursued. He called for the actualization of more development programmes, taking advantage of the opportunities inherent in the Mediterranean region. In this respect he saluted the European Union, of which Italy is a member, for having put in place a new policy for Africa.

Europe, following the Valletta Migration Summit of November 2015, set up an Emergency Trust Fund for ten countries in the Sahel, for nine countries in the Horn of Africa and for five countries in North Africa. The money from the fund will be used to ameliorate conditions of destabilization which lead to migration from the Continent; and to help vulnerable communities in these countries to build resilience. Apart from dealing with the immediate problem of migration, the funds will also be used to address Africa's underlying structural economic development challenges.

Rather than concentrating all attention at the phenomenon of migration, which is a short-term manifestation of Africa's development challenges, however, President Mattarella urged Europe and Africa to continue promoting stability and dialogue as needed. But, ultimately, beyond this dialogue, what need to be addressed are structural challenges to Africa's growth and development.