Italy PM Draghi Skips Africa Trip After Testing Positive For COVID-19

Italy PM Draghi to Skip Africa Trip After Testing Positive to COVID-19 (News Central TV)

After testing positive for COVID-19, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi has canceled a trip to oil-rich Angola and the Republic of Congo, according to his office.

Draghi, 74, is “asymptomatic,” according to a statement from his office on Monday. He was scheduled to fly to Luanda on Wednesday and Brazzaville on Thursday for talks on switching energy supplies from Russia.

Foreign minister Luigi Di Maio and the minister in charge of ecological transition, Roberto Cingolani, will take his position.

According to News Central, Italy and Algeria struck agreements last week to boost energy ties and expand Algeria’s energy exports to Italy.

On April 11, Draghi announced the agreements in Algeria, describing them as “important steps” in Italy’s efforts to lessen its reliance on Russian gas.

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Last year, Italy, which is heavily reliant on foreign gas, purchased 29 billion cubic metres (bcm) from Russia, accounting for around 40% of its total gas imports.

The two countries’ biggest energy players, Eni and Sonatrach, signed the gas deal with Algeria, according to the prime minister. The deal’s specifics were not immediately accessible.

Draghi said Italy was willing to engage with Algeria to promote renewable energy and green hydrogen as part of a bigger declaration of commitment.

Gas deliveries between Rome and Algiers were already covered by a contract that ran until 2027.

Since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, there has been debate over whether other nations  in Africa and beyond can step up to provide alternative gas supplies to Europe.

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Italy has also gone out to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Angola, Azerbaijan, and Qatar, among others, to make arrangements.

The Russian invasion has prompted broad Western sanctions that threaten to disrupt energy exports, potentially resulting in gas shortages.

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