The Group of Seven wealth nations (G7) in the world met on the Italian island of Sicily to discuss issues of interest but hosts Italy had hoped to make the continent the main focus of the meeting.
The country has been at the receiving end of waves of illegal migration adventures especially via the Mediterranean. Migrants especially from West and East Africa undertake the perilous journey to reach Europe in search of greener pastures.
The countries were unable to reach an agreement on climate change – thanks to the lack of clarity by US president Donald Trump on whether to honour a pledge by his country to cut greenhouse emissions.
Perhaps the choice (to be in) Taormina and Sicily says much about how important our relations are with Africa. Today our discussion on Africa will focus on the need for a partnership across all sectors.
That notwithstanding, they all stood united in the fight against terrorism. Two major attacks happened in the lead-up to the Summit. One in the Manchester Arena and the other in Egypt on Copts who were traveling to a pilgrimage.
Who were Africa’s representatives?
Southern and Central Africa seem to be the regions on the continent that were not represented at the meeting. Three West African leaders, one from North Africa and two from East Africa were part of the Africa-focused aspect of the meeting.
Aside individual leaders, the African Union Commission chairperson, Moussa Faki Mahamat was also in attendance. The former Chadian Premier has recently held talks with the United Nations and European Union chiefs over closer cooperation between Africa and their respective bodies.
The African list was as follows:
- Ethiopian Prime Minister, Hailemariam Desalegn
- Kenyan President, Uhuru Kenyatta
- Tunisian President, Beji Caid Essebsi
- Chadian President, Issoufou Mahamadou
- Guinean President, Alpha Conde – who doubles as African Union chairman
- Nigeria’s Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo
“Perhaps the choice (to be in) Taormina and Sicily says much about how important our relations are with Africa,” Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni said in opening remarks.
“Today our discussion on Africa will focus on the need for a partnership across all sectors … with innovation and development our core objective,” he said, speaking in Italian.
More than half a million have arrived in Italy since 2014, with 1,400 brought ashore by rescuers on Friday (May 26) alone.
However, Italian proposals to highlight the positive impact of migration and to promote a major initiative on food security were both shot down in pre-summit talks.
The leaders are expected to issue a vastly shorter communique than in previous years, with one European diplomat suggesting it might be just six pages long compared to 32 last year.
The G7 comprises leaders from Britain (Theresa May), Canada (Justin Trudeau), France (Emmanuel Macron), Germany (Angela Merkel), Italy (Paolo Gentiloni), Japan (Shinzo Abe) and the United States (Donald Trump).
The EU commission chief and its council president, Jean-Claude Juncker and Donald Tusk respectively were also present.