Massimo Alberizzi: “Africa is a bomb ready to explode”


He is one of the top political experts on the African continent, where he lives with his family and where in 2007 he was also kidnapped by Al Shabaab. Massimo A. Alberizzi, director of Africa Express “, he tells us what is happening on that continent, torn by civil wars, terrorism and Covid-19 and what the consequences could be for the rest of the world.

Some virologists have claimed that the southern part of the world has been “spared” by the coronavirus. In particular Africa. In reality it seems that things are not quite like that …

In fact, the virologists who told this did not understand that in Africa there are not the same structures found in Europe. Here too there are great difficulties, such as making swabs, because there are no reagents. For example, when I came from Africa, I was unable to swab myself. I live in Nairobi and took the last flight before the lockdown, but my family is stuck there. In Africa, except for large cities, there are no structures. Let’s think for example of the Congo: there are no hospitals, swabs, therefore the proliferation of the virus is not manageable because it is impossible to understand how many people are infected and at what rate they increase ”.

Yet an estimate of around 80,000 infections has been made. In your opinion, is this reliable?

“No, it is a fact that does not rest on any criteria. They could potentially be double or triple. I wonder how these lists are drawn up if, for example, in the African countryside there can be thousands and thousands of people and only one clinic. On what basis are the infected counted? ”.

At the time of your departure from Nairobi what measures had been taken and what are the current ones?

“Obviously having my whole family down I am very knowledgeable about the matter, but not about the numbers for the reasons I explained above. However, there has been a general closure, for example that of the airlines that worked only by telephone or as far as offices are concerned. There is an obligation to wear a mask and in restaurants, we are obviously talking about big cities, there is a distance, but in reality no business has been closed, the shops have always remained open “.

How dangerous can the African continent be for a return of contagion around the world?

“Very dangerous, because since there are no reliable data to rely on, nobody knows how things are and if they are infected. Are there healthy carriers? How do you know that? If someone dies in Mali or Niger, in places where there is nothing, who can say if he died from coronavirus and therefore potentially how many other people he has been able to infect, or else? Ironically, in some places, since there is no registry office, one is not born and does not die, these people do not exist for statistical purposes, but exist for the purpose of contagion “.

At the moment, in addition to the covid, there was also the massive invasion of grasshoppers that destroying everything and consequently leading to the scarcity of food, the unhygienic lack of sustenance and water, is worsening the spread of the covid

“Grasshoppers are another problem that has been shelved at the moment, and it is thought that in June there may be another biblical wave. In Zambia there is also a center for monitoring grasshoppers, which I also visited years ago. These, even in captivity, therefore in the legs, when they migrate change color, for this reason you can still know when they swarm, even if it is impossible to stop them ”.

Politically speaking, the lack of presence of a strong central government, the continuous internal struggles, have certainly led to a flourishing, or rather an exponential increase in terrorism. Does Silvia Romano’s example come to mind, in these “no man’s lands” led by more or less organized factions, is there a relationship between crime and the increase in infections?

“Of course, even if we have to pay attention to the Silva Romano case, because it’s not about terrorism but about business. In this regard on Africa Express a dossier has been released which tells exactly what happened. An analysis in which we explain how millions of dollars are at stake in this story. So Silvia was kidnapped by common criminals for a ransom, but then she moved on to other things, in a bigger game, which probably she doesn’t know either. But leaving Somalia aside and returning to the question, in Mozambique, there has actually been a resurgence of Islamic terrorism, they are called Shabaab, in areas where, coincidentally, there are oil wells, the presence of money. They attack mainly in the north of Capo Del Gado, where the situation is dramatic. But there are also attacks on Pokaram in Nigeria. These gangs, feel immune to the virus, minimize. Obviously it is from here that one can understand how this ‘state of terror’ and this little prevention due to the lack of knowledge of the dangers, can help the infection ”.

Trivially, given that there is a massive foreign presence, shouldn’t those areas be the most controlled and therefore safe?

“It should, and in fact the big companies like Enel, Shell in Capo De Gado, have asked for an increase in security measures and there is also a massive presence of Russian mercenaries defending the territory. There have also been murders and casualties in these Wagner group gunfights. ”

Why exactly Russians?

“In Africa there is a strong presence of Russia, because Vladimir Putin is very close to the president.”

Even in Africa, terrorism recruits people initially helping them, just like mafias do?

“It’s a very similar story everywhere. It focuses on hunger, religion and fear. If you don’t have food and I give it to you, then you have a debt with me, or if I create a hospital I also need to convert it, if you find the Sufi that converts that is not a terrorist, if you find the heavy Islamist becomes terrorist. However, the Shabaab are not all terrorists, they are business organizations, where there is no law and there is nothing to fight with weapons, but otherwise it is above all a business “.

Thanks to the spread of the virus but also to terrorism, there is no risk of isolation and consequent immigration to other states. We are at the door …

“I think the opposite happens at least with Covid. It is not true that migrants are people who know nothing. Those who organize these migrations know exactly what happens, and they know that if they arrive in Europe they can find work or not. They know very well that they can die during the journey, each of them has at least one friend, or an acquaintance who was dead sailing or stuck in Libya who cannot pass. I am not convinced that it is not known that there is no longer any job in Europe, or rather that we have far fewer jobs. It is true that many of them are employed in types of employment that Italians do not, but here too there is a wait. It is enough to see how many Italians showed up to go to the fields to collect fruit and vegetables. Even migrants know that since there is no work for us there is not even for them. ”

How do you see this evolution both in terms of contagion and what do you think governments should do to try to stem this danger?

“This is what they are trying to do, which is to reach remote villages to check how the situation really is, but it is very complicated. Taking an example of vaccines on children, maybe you can make a dose, but when you have to make the calls where do you find these people? How do you make the calls? The same is true for covid, for medicines, hospitalizations, but above all contagion, which in this way is free to circulate ”.

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