Italian premier to visit Maputo

Renzi on three-day visit to Africa

Italy's premier Matteo Renzi will visit Maputo on 19 July as part of a three-day trip to Mozambique, the Republic of Congo and Angola. Renzi is due to hold meetings with outgoing Mozambican president Armando Guebuza and senior government officials as well as politicians, business figures and local members of the Italian community.

Italy currently holds the Euopean Union presidency and Italian media has speculated that Renzi is trying to steer EU foreign policy towards a new focus on Africa and the Mediterranean region, with a particular focus on immigration. Political analysts say that Renzi's efforts are connected to the ongoing crisis involving the hundreds of African refugees arriving on Italian shores daily.

Italy also has strong business links in Mozambique, particularly in the energy sector, and the Maputo visit follows an Italian government trade mission in May. The Italian state's oil company ENI is the largest foreign oil producer in Africa and has significant interests in Mozambique's gas sector.

This is the first visit of an Italian premier to Mozambique since the country gained independence in 1975. Renzi will travel to Brazzaville in the Republic of Congo on 20 July, visiting Luanda in Angola the next day.