Italian emigration to Africa represents a minor phenomenon compared to the streams of expatriates heading overseas and to the rest of Europe, however, already in the early 1800s we find the first Italians settled in North Africa. This was an emigration coming mostly from southern Italy, geographically closer to the African continent. The Italian presence in these regions would increase from about 1880, and was mainly concentrated in Egypt, where a large Italian community of workers had already settled due to the opening of the Suez Canal, and Tunisia, countries where Britain and France respectively had established their protectorates.

In the following years, Italian emigration to the African continent was intertwined with colonization, which began with Eritrea and then continued in Somalia, Libya, and Ethiopia with the 1936 annexation, the establishment of Italian East Africa, and the proclamation of the Empire.

With Benito Mussolini's rise to power, fascism attempted to stem the flow of Italians to the Americas by diverting them to Italian colonies in Italian East Africa (Somalia, Eritrea and Ethiopia) and to Libya.

After World War II and the subsequent decolonization process, the repatriation of many Italians began, culminating in 1970 with Mu'ammar Gaddafi's rise to power in Libya.

Túnez, Sfax, trabajadores en el trabajo en una cantera de mármol
Túnez, Sfax, trabajadores en el trabajo en una cantera de mármol