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Ghana and Senegal confirmed at Expo 2015

Italy forges African ties with World's Fair as conduit

10 January, 15:26
Ghana and Senegal confirmed at Expo 2015 (By Emily Backus) (ANSA) - Milan, January 11 - Ghana, one of the world's leading growers of cocoa, joined an innovative, thematic country ''cluster'' of cocoa producers participating in the food and agriculture-themed Milan Expo 2015, a Ghanese politician and Italian Foreign Minister Emma Bonino announced this week.

The theme of six-month Universal Exposition taking place in Milan May-October 2015 is "Feeding the Planet: Energy for Life," emphasizing food security, agriculture and international food products.

"We can carry out a partnership under the banner of transparency," Bonino said on a visit to Ghana's capital Accra, where she met Samia Nkrumah, chairman of Ghana's Convention People's Party and daughter of Ghana's first president Kwame Nkrumah.

Bonino added that Italy is "on the cutting edge of cacao processing technology" and that collaboration between the two countries in this field is beneficial for both. "I hope so much that Expo 2015 gives development opportunities for the (African) continent," Nkrumah said.

"A strong Europe also means a strong Africa".

Ghana is the latest of a number of African countries to see Expo 2015 as an international showcase for agricultural products.

Last month, Zambian Ambassador to Italy Frank Mutubila called Milan Expo 2015 2extremely important" in an interview with ANSA.

"As you know, agriculture is being regarded as a mainstay by most African countries, including Zambia," Mutubila said.

Italy has been promoting Expo 2015 both as a development opportunity for African countries and as a conduit for bilateral relations.

Bonino, on a visit to the Senegalese capital Dakar, on Tuesday signed an agreement with Senegalese Foreign Minister Mankeur Ndiaye in which Italy is allocating 45 million euros over the three-year-period 2014-2016 to help support small and medium agricultural businesses. Senegal confirmed its participation in Expo 2015's thematic cluster called, "agriculture and nutrition in arid zones". Bonino, who met with Senegalese President Macky Sall, said the "good relations" between the two countries "can only get better". Bonino said Senegal has proposed organizing a forum for bilateral investment that would be open to public and private sector entities for the agricultural, energy, infrastructure, transportation and health sectors.

Since 1985, Italy has given 292 million euros in direct aid and 129 million euros in loans to Senegal.

Bonino added that progress on new railway infrastructure is promising, but that security remains a priority.

"The theme that worries us the most is the expansion of terrorism, violence and extremism," Bonino said.

Nkrumah added that Expo 2015 is "a great opportunity for the whole world to know Italy and to deepen its relationship with various countries". Meanwhile Expo 2015 on Tuesday closed entry submissions for the contest to name its cartoon mascot and cast of 10 sidekicks dreamed up by Disney Italy's creative team.

Eight thousand children in Italy submitted entries to baptise the mascot - an Arcimboldo-like character with banana lips, garlic nose and pineapple topknot - and his quirky, smiling individual fruits and vegetable coterie.

The online contest was launched December 15 on the Expo 2015 website.

The jury is now reviewing entries.

Winners are to be announced on January 31.