Why this story matters:
--by Inemarie Dekker
France and French-speaking Africa share a currency (the CFA-franc), military presence, secret diplomacy and, of course, language. For France, it offers one clear benefit: access to African resources and markets.
Where African citizens are denied economic sovereignty and democratic rights, the old French and African elites thrive. That leads to the question:
will French President Emmanuel Macron -- with his claims of bringing innovation -- change his African policies in favor of economic and democratic development in francophone Africa?
In his first half year of presidency, Macron made an important step to break with the old elites. In June 2017, he created an advisory group of young French-African entrepreneurs, the so-called the Presidential Council for Africa (CPA).
Understanding the history and facts on relations between France and its former colonies may help fellow EU-citizens, donors, ngo-workers and politicians to understand France's role in the development of other countries so actual solutions and alternatives can be offered.
For more on this topic, read: Will Macron put a stop to French colonialism in Africa?
Details from the story:
- France African politics aims to secure access to resources, like oil and uranium and access to markets. For example, Niger provides 17% of France’s uranium, used for nuclear power. And the French Bolloré Logistics depends for 80% of its profits on the growing African market.
- Different from other former colonisers, like UK and the Netherlands, France does not maintain any relations with African civil society.
- Political relations are commercially driven. Old French and African elites “trade political and business favours” among one another.
- France is the world’s 2nd importer of African products (after China) and the worlds’4th exporter of French products to Africa.
- Several French multinationals - among them state-owned companies - are benefiting from past and current French political connections with African leaders, among them autocratic and corrupt ones.
- African youth and civil society want France to stop political and economic interferences in Africa. They demand sovereignty and leaders “with respect to the economic, social and political rights of Africans.”
**This article was written as part of a NewsMavens collaboration with exceptional freelance women journalists in Europe. As a freelancer blogging at All About Africa, Inemarie Dekker tries to show the bigger picture of news that connects Europe and Africa. Check out her page here.**