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Italy Pursues Closer Energy Ties With Africa Through $6 Billion Fund

Italy is creating a $5.95 billion (5.5 billion euro) fund to boost its energy ties with Africa and support healthcare and education there in a bid to stem migrant flows from North Africa to Italian shores, Italy’s right-wing Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni said on Monday.

Meloni unveiled the funding plan, dubbed ‘Mattei plan’ – named after the founder of Italian energy major Eni, Enrico Mattei, – during a summit with dozens of African heads of state and government and EU officials, including Ursula von der Leyen, the President of the European Commission.

Energy is one of the five priorities for Italy in Africa, alongside education, healthcare, agriculture, and water resources, Meloni said.

Of the initial $6 billion funding for the ‘Mattei plan’, around $3.24 billion (3 billion euros) will come from the Italian climate fund and about $2.7 billion (2.5 billion euros) from resources for development cooperation, the Italian prime minister added. 

Europe and Italy’s energy major Eni have been increasingly betting on Africa to import large volumes of pipeline gas and LNG to replace pipeline gas supply from Russia, which was Europe’s top gas supplier before the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Eni has been particularly active in securing more natural gas supply for Europe from Africa and has fast-tracked projects in Africa to meet Europe’s gas demand in the absence of Russian pipeline deliveries.

Early last year, Eni’s chief executive Claudio Descalzi told the Financial Times in an interview that Europe should look to Africa for a “south-north” energy axis that would deliver gas from Africa to the EU.

At the announcement of the 2022 results in February 2023, Descalzi said, “During the year, we were able to finalize agreements and activities to fully replace Russian gas by 2025, leveraging our strong relationships with producing states and fast-track development approach to ramp-up volumes from Algeria, Egypt, Mozambique, Congo and Qatar.”    

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By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com

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