Maputo — The outgoing Italian ambassador, Carlo Lo Cascio, said in Maputo on Monday that he believes his country is poised to become the largest foreign investor in Mozambique.
Carlo Lo Cascio was speaking to reporters shortly after a farewell meeting with President Armando Guebuza, marking the end of the diplomat's four year stint in Mozambique.
According to the Ambassador, Italian investment in Mozambique stands at about 150 million euros, while annual trade between the two countries is about 400 million euros, with Italy being one of the largest exporters to Mozambique.
"The ground was prepared in recent years. Now, with the entry of ENI, Italy could become the largest foreign investor in the country in coming years. It will be a very important operation, bringing new challenges", said Lo Cascio.
The Italian energy company ENI has found huge deposits of natural gas in the Rovuma Basin, off the coast of the northern Mozambican province of Cabo Delgado. It has announced that it plans to invest billions of US dollars in building a Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) plant in the region.
As for the meeting with President Guebuza, Lo Cascio said they reviewed the "extremely positive" results achieved over the last four years of his mandate, as witnessed by the increasing investment and trade, and his country's continuing support for Mozambique despite the current financial crisis in the euro zone.
"The results are very positive. The visit of our Foreign Minister (Giulio Terzi di Sant'Agata) to Mozambique last month showed our willingness to continue to play our role as a major partner and in the dialogue between the government and donors", said the Ambassador.
Relations between the two countries date back to before Mozambique's independence in 1975.
Today, Italy is one of the 19 donors and funding agencies that channel some of their aid to Mozambique in direct support to the Mozambican state budget. According to the Ambassador, for the period 2013/2015 Italy will disburse 15 million euros. Italy also donates 20 million euros annually to a number of initiatives in the country.