Coordinated by Arnaud Ardoin, journalist at LCP, this conference was held on November 13rd 2013 at Agence Française de Développement.
The speakers were :
- Anne PAUGAM, Chief Executive Officer of AFD
- Jean-Marie BOCKEL, rapporteur, Senator for the Haut-Rhin Department
- Jeanny LORGEOUX, rapporteur, Senator for the Loir-et-Cher Department
- Jean-Marc CHATAIGNER, Deputy Director General, Global Affairs, Development and Partnerships at the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
- Lionel ZINSOU, President of the PAI investment fund
- Yves BOUDOT, Director of AFD’s Africa Department
Please find below the summary :
The report establishes a dual diagnostic of the economic, demographic, humanitarian, environmental, diplomatic and security situation in Africa and of the relations between France and Africa in history and in the present. It reveals “a positive vision of Africa, its potential, economic partnerships, links between civil society, regional and local authorities and various stakeholders that need to be strengthened.” (A. Paugam) Without underestimating the risks and difficulties, France must not miss the African opportunity, that of a continent experiencing a profound transformation, of a “reservoir of growth” (JM. Bockel). The report sets out 10 priorities and 70 recommendations in order to propose avenues for reflection and action for a renewal of the relationship between Africa and France.
New order in Africa
A billion new inhabitants in forty years, 700 million new active workers when Europe will lose 90 million, an ecological footprint set to double… In the coming decades, Africa will face a number of challenges to which are added those of poverty (400 million people live on less than USD 1.25 a day), inequalities, the lack of infrastructure and security. At the same time, “Africa’s economic take-off represents a new order” (JM. Bockel), “Africa is a major continent that will develop regardless of regional disparities, regardless of economic problems” (J. Lorgeoux). Even if “current growth on the continent is not taking place in the form of inclusive and sustainable development”, (L. Zinzou), it is otherwise more dynamic than in Western countries. For the latter, Africa’s economic take-off offers tremendous opportunities: Africa has become “a vital stake not only for France, but also for Europe” (J. Lorgeoux)..
New win-win relationship to build
Faced with this new order in Africa, France is in “a paradoxical situation: an unprecedented relationship with Africa, but a declining presence” (JM. Bockel). The reason for this is that “France’s African policy has developed at a slower pace than Africa itself” (J. Lorgeoux). Consequently, France must today implement a new strategy with two objectives: participate in African development and seize the opportunity of African growth. “If we fit in well with Africa’s growth, Africa can provide the economic benefits that we need” (L. Zinzou). To achieve this, France must propose an approach based on shared interests, in a win-win spirit, as it is clear that France now needs Africa, “we must accept the fact that we both need each other” (L. Zinzou). A demand for cooperation is, furthermore, expressed in the field: “following a number of experiences with new stakeholders […], a whole host of African decision-makers are expressing a demand from France” (Y. Boudot). The report sets out 70 proposals and 10 priorities “to ensure that Africa is our future and that we are Africa’s future” (JM. Bockel). However, it touches on certain topics that would merit closer consideration: “research for development in the South”, “capacity building”, the promotion of institutions that would be “between NGOs and the State” in order to promote political pluralism, or the participation of African diasporas in the construction of “Africa-France instead of Françafrique [France’s post-colonial approach to Africa]”, (JM. Châtaigner).
Ten priorities for a new relationship between Africa and France (J. Lorgeoux)
– Change the tune over Africa and define an ambitious and coherent strategy
– Enhance the management of the African policy and the consistency of actions conducted in the field
– Strengthen our economic ties with an Africa that is taking off
– Contribute to stability and security in Africa
– Promote political pluralism
– Update our development cooperation
– Promote French technical expertise
– Scale up our action to support Francophonie
– Restore consistency between our influence policy and our migration policy
– Define an African strategy for France in multilateral and European forums