With the Mattei Plan “we will open a new chapter” in relations with Italy. “We really appreciate this idea and think it is the best way to cooperate. And we also appreciate the sectors that have been proposed by Italy. Agriculture, energy, digital transformation are very important for Africa.” The ambassador of Senegal in Rome, Ngor Ndiaye, stated this in an interview with Adnkronos, underlining how “the structure, principles and guidelines of the plan are very interesting” and pave the way for a “profitable partnership for both set off”.
Ndiaye urges the Meloni government to involve the African Commission in the preparation of the plan because, he explains, “the plan cannot be developed in Italy and implemented in Africa”. The parties “should sit together, draw up a Mattei plan and implement it together. That is why the head of state was here and expressed, obviously, willingness to collaborate with Italy. We hope that this message has been received very clearly by the Italian authorities “, continues the diplomat, according to whom so far “ideas, proposals, but not the complete plan” have arrived from Italy, even though “we have discussed it and we know the philosophy. Technically, however, we do not have a document called the Mattei Plan in where we can find all the proposals put forward by the Italian government”.
The ambassador believes that the accusations of neocolonialism leveled by many against the Meloni government are unfounded. “Africa is now too big, too strong to be colonized – he replies – You can colonize a state, but you cannot colonize the entire continent. Africa has more than a billion people. So neither Italy, nor not even the United States, they can colonize it. These are just words that people use when they want to criticize an opinion. But we in Africa don’t waste time with this” because “we know who we are. We know what we want and we know why African leaders were here We also had the experience of the summit with Italy with China, with Russia, with Turkey, with the United States and with the European Union – he says – All partners are equal for us and we will give the same consideration we give to Italy that we give to France, China, Spain, the United States and China”.
Highlighting therefore that “Italy and Senegal have had very strong cooperation since our independence”, the diplomat underlines the good collaboration that the African country has with Leonardo, from which it will purchase some equipment in the coming years. “We are also working with Saipem because we will have gas and oil in Senegal, on the border with Mauritania. And we expect Italy to collaborate with us in exploitation and exports. The experience that Italy has with SMEs”.
Ndiaye then makes a request for an agreement on pensions with Italy linked to the presence of many Senegalese, over 150 thousand he specifies, who today work in our country. “We want our fellow citizens who live and work here, when they retire and return to Senegal, to be able to benefit from the social contributions they have paid – he declares – We have proposed an agreement to the Italian authorities and we hope that the discussion will open”.
The ambassador excludes that Senegal, as indicated by the Wall Street Journal for other West African countries such as Gabon and Equatorial Guinea, could agree to host a Chinese military base. “Russia and China have no political influence in Senegal, but we are business partners – he stated – We are not communists, there is no communist party in Senegal. And as far as I know, our relations with China and Russia are focused on investments and on the economic spheres, not on politics”. And the idea of a military base “has never been presented. We have French soldiers, obviously, but it has been since independence and we are trying to get them to leave. The United States is also there, but only for training – he points out – We will never accept to have a foreign military base in Senegal. China and Russia, it’s the same. We don’t need it, really. We have a very strong army that has participated in all peacekeeping operations.”
The diplomat then comments on the recent riots that broke out in Senegal and cost the lives of at least three people following the decision of the president, Macky Sall, to postpone the presidential elections. A “new, never happened before” fact, Ndiaye is keen to point out, according to which Senegal has historically always been an oasis of stability in Africa, but without hiding the delicate moment that the country is experiencing. “We don’t want to have what in French is called ‘the curse of oil and gas’ that many people are interested in,” he adds, highlighting that Sall has announced that he will leave and that elections are necessary, but “sometimes new situations occur.” The ambassador explains that the decision is now in the hands of the Constitutional Court, which will have to accept or reject the postponement of the vote. The ruling could arrive by the end of this week and “we hope that all politicians accept the rule of law. In reality it is not a big crisis. All the institutions are functioning.”
The ambassador maintains that the protest is not fueled from outside since “Senegalese politicians would never accept being used by foreigners. This is an internal issue that will be resolved between Senegalese people. In the end we will sit together and find a solution”, but even the “complicated” regional context with which Senegal finds itself dealing does not leave one at peace. “The situation in the Sahel region is very complicated at the moment. We have had military coups in Mali, in Niger, in Guinea and in Burkina Faso. We must therefore be very careful in the decision we will make. And we hope that Senegal remains a democracy and a model”, he states, specifying that since its independence Senegal has never had a military coup. “Our soldiers are very professional. Of course anything can happen, but there are no signs that the military is interested in taking power – he concludes – There is no open crisis, but we will see after the Constitutional Court’s decision.”