Italian ambassador upbeat on future relations

Italian ambassador upbeat on future relations
December 09 11:11 2022
By Amanda Ellen Nicola Jojo

Italy has been a significant partner of Africa through promotion of peace, stability and development of the continent. It has been very supportive of regional economic cooperation and continental integration processes. Worth noting is that, Italy’s attention to Africa is designed to ensure that there is a balance in Africa’s growth and Italy’s national interest.

The Diplomat caught up with the newly appointed ambassador of Italy to Zimbabwe, H.E Umberto Malnati who spotlighted on various socio-economic and political issues within the context of Zimbabwe and beyond.

Below are the excerpts of the interview:

You are the ambassador of Italy. Being an ambassador means institutionally representing the Italian State abroad. This role involves years of study and continuous transfers. How many years have you been doing your job? When was your passion for the diplomatic career born?

This is my 4th posting. I started my career more than 30 years ago in Ghana, this was at a time there was a provisional and national defence council. I spent four years in the Mozambique from 2000 to 2004. From 2011 to 2015 I was the ambassador to Gabon.  from 2004 to 2008 I was in charge of Southern Africa Desk in the Ministry of Foreign affairs. I was posted here in August 2022 and Zimbabwe has friendly people, administration. I was privileged because I presented my credentials a week after I arrived.  It was a strong proof that the Zimbabwean government wanted to work with Italy.

Kindly tell us about the relations between Italy and Zimbabwe? Whilst at it what is yet to be done to strengthen the existing relations?

They are good in the sense that we have a good presence economically. We have some enterprises here, direct investments in the mining sector, construction and building industry. Also, our political relationship is now stronger because European Union (EU) lifted the sanctions against Zimbabwe. As Italy we believe that sanctions were not a good idea. We encouraged the EU to open the doors.

Is there trade between Zimbabwe and Italy?

Yes, agricultural and mining dominate the exports from Zimbabwe to Italy while Zimbabwe imports mainly machinery. The numbers are not quite big as you know but we are working to increase the numbers. Our direct investors in mining export 70% of the production and locally sell 30 %. It’s going to be difficult because of the post pandemic recovery and the Russia-Ukraine war which have affected the whole trade relations.  We have the tools especially after the lifting of the sanctions.

Your Excellency you said that the lifting of sanctions has given us tools to strengthen our economy. What sort of opportunities do you see in Zimbabwe?

Zimbabwe is attractive from many points of view there is mining, agriculture. The mines being rich in gold, platinum and lithium which is very important nowadays for a green economy. Zimbabwe and Italy economies can be complementary in the sense that Italy has advanced technological tools for agriculture and mining while Zimbabwe has great land and I believe Zimbabwe is going to be a bread basket of Africa again.

When it comes to tourism, do we have a lot of Italians visiting Zimbabwe?

Zimbabwe is a jewel and it has been considered as one of the most attractive countries in Africa because of its game reserves and the Victoria Falls. We also have Italian travelling agencies working here, they make packages to tourists to come here and visit this beautiful country. I really hope to have this opportunity to visit the tourist resorts in this country during my time here.

 Anything that can be done to increase the number of tourists in Zimbabwe?

All over the world infrastructures are important to attract tourists, so I believe that here in Zimbabwe some infrastructure should be developed mainly in communication and so on. Tourism products should be inclusive and not only cater for the elite. It should be open to common men out there.

Let us talk about the assistance that you have given Zimbabwe?

When Zimbabwe was hit by cyclone IDAI we had the opportunity to directly help Zimbabwe through the Red Cross as well as during the Cholera epidemic in 2018 we are always ready to intervene in emergency cases in Africa.

Your country is bidding for World Expo 2030, tell us more?

We have presented our candidature we really hope that other countries will rally behind us. The slogan is “People and territories, urban regeneration, inclusion and innovation.” It’s a theme that calls for an inclusion to all the people to join and make a very unique experience in Rome.

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