Transaqua: A Crucial Infrastructure Project for Africa

The Transaqua project had gained renewed momentum in 2018, when it was endorsed by all member countries of the Lake Chad Basin Committee, at an international conference in Abuja organized by the Buhari government. On that occasion, the Italian government had committed to co-finance the feasibility study, but the process got bogged down due to political changes and foreign interference.

More recently, pressure has again been put on the Italian government, since Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni announced she was working on a “Mattei Plan” (named after the late industrial leader Enrico Mattei), aimed at countering illegal immigration with development initiatives in Africa. A major article promoting Transaqua as “the real Mattei plan” was published last Aug. 30 in the prestigious defense magazine Analisi Difesa (cf. SAS 36/23), and on Oct. 24, former government official Ercole Incalza exposed in his blog “an unconceivable paradox: we talk about producing a Mattei Plan and we forget we have a ready-made plan, which we do not know or do not want to know”. He suggested the Italian government “examine such a proposal [Transaqua], because maybe it could finally refer not to a hypothesis, but to a reality which is congenial with what we call the ‘Mattei Plan’.”

A crucial feature of the 2018 agreements was the triangular collaboration LCBC-Italy-China. One of China’s largest corporations, PowerChina, had joined the enterprise, signing an MoU with the Italian company owner of the Transaqua blueprint, Bonifica. Such a triangular cooperation anticipated the spirit in which then-Italian PM Giuseppe Conte and Chinese President Xi Jinping signed an MoU the following year, under which Italy joined the Belt and Road Initiative.

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