France and Central African Republic
France is supporting the Central African Republic’s efforts to emerge from the crisis. It has sustained dialogue with the transitional authorities, which it encourages to implement all aspects of the transition process, through to the holding of elections that can enable a return to the constitutional order.
France’s commitment to the Central African Republic’s recovery and regional stability is also shown through the support of Operation Sangaris, which has been deployed to Bangui and the provinces since 6 December 2013 to support the African-led International Support Mission to the Central African Republic (MISCA) and then the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA).
At bilateral level, France has announced more than €70 million in civilian assistance to the Central African Republic since 2014, in addition to military spending (Sangaris and bilateral support to EU, EUFOR and EUMAM operations, as well as the African Union – MISCA – and UN – MINUSCA). This civilian assistance is broken down as follows: €15 million of emergency humanitarian and food assistance (€6.2 million for 2015), €45 million of recovery and then development assistance, primarily via the Agence française de développement (AFD, French Development Agency); almost €3 million to restore public finances and support the transition; and €14 million of comprehensive budgetary assistance for the Central African Republic’s State. This funding seeks in particular to support the recovery of the economy and society, and to consolidate the democratic process and the restoration of the rule of law. Particular emphasis is placed upon aspects of democratic governance via capacity building for the Central African Republic’s State in key sectors, such as interministerial coordination, territorial administration, public finances and the justice system.
Multilaterally, France fully supports the action of ECCAS and the African Union and acts in the framework of the United Nations Security Council which has adopted six resolutions concerning the Central African Republic: 2121, 2127, 2134, 2149, 2181 and 2217. Within the EU, France, along with Germany, the Netherlands and the European Commission, instigated the creation of the multi-donor Bêkou Trust Fund (currently endowed with a total of €108 million) and the adoption of early projects in the sectors of health, food security, urban infrastructure and economic and social recovery. Three other Commission-led projects are currently being implemented: support for the election process (€18 million), support for basic services (€27 million) and support for the consolidation of the State (€33 million).
Lastly, France supports the Central African Republic vis-à-vis international financial institutions (obtaining the completion point of the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative in 2009, and an IMF Extended Credit Facility, Peacebuilding Commission, etc.).
The President of the French Republic visited Bangui on 10 December 2013, following the launch of Operation Sangaris, and again on 28 February 2014. Laurent Fabius, then Minister of Foreign Affairs, visited on 13 October 2013 along with Ms Kristalina Georgieva, European Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response. He returned on 23 January 2014 for the swearing in of Catherine Samba-Panza, interim President of the Central African Republic. Jean-Yves Le Drian, French Minister of Defence, has visited the Central African Republic on five occasions (13 December 2013, 2 January 2014, 12 February 2014, 18 May 2014, and 7 July 2014. Ms Annick Girardin, Minister of State for Development and Francophonie, visited Bangui on 30 and 31 October 2015.
Commercial relations between France and the Central African Republic are also suffering from the current crisis.
There is little trade (USD 55 million) and there are few French businesses, but France remains the leading foreign investor in the Central African Republic and has, despite a difficult context, forged partnerships in sectors including business services, manufacturing, commerce and banking services. Despite political instability and security risks, Air France, Bolloré (logistics and river freight), Castel (drinks and sugar), Total (storage and distribution of petroleum products), and CFAO (automobile distribution) have maintained their establishments in the Central African Republic. The arrival of France Télécom in 2007 in the mobile telephone sector marks a certain interest from French investors. Looting following the seizure of Bangui by rebels on 24 March 2013 caused major disruption to the activities of French companies, which have since been seeking to restore normal operations.
While Areva signed an agreement with the government of the Central African Republic on 1 August 2008 to exploit the uranium deposits in Bakouma (eastern Central African Republic), the many difficulties (isolation of the deposits, development of the technique to process ore, energy supplies and insecurity), as well as the fall in global uranium prices following the Fukushima disaster, led the French company to suspend the project.
Beyond the humanitarian, food and budgetary assistance allotted to the Central African Republic’s recovery from the crisis, the most part of France’s aid takes the form of Agence française de développement (AFD, French Development Agency) projects (€35 million of new or readjusted projects over three years). These projects, of which fast-impact aspects are implemented as a priority, are carried out in sectors requiring considerable manpower, including healthcare (€2.5 million), infrastructure (energy, airports – 2 x €5 million), education (€5 million) and integrated regional development of the Central African Republic (€6.5 million). The AFD is also planning enhanced support for NGOs (€3.3 million) for efforts in the areas of agricultural development, healthcare and social cohesion.
Local development actions of a humanitarian and social nature are carried out in partnership with local NGOs through funding from the French Social Development Fund (FSD) established with the Embassy (€0.85 million).
The emergency plan to support public finances was the subject of a partnership agreement between France and the Central African Republic, which was signed on 13 March 2014. It focuses on securing treasury circuits and raising customs revenues, through human capacity building (return/recruitment of technical assistance, expert missions) and material capacity building (rehabilitation and replacement of equipment). Although suspended when the Seleka seized power, French institutional cooperation has resumed, and a technical assistance facility is deployed to support the Central African Republic’s State in the most strategic areas, such as security, aid coordination, the justice system, territorial administration, education and coordination of government work.
Along with the EU, France accepted to co-steer the “New Deal for Engagement in Fragile States” in 2012, so as to better direct international aid to best address situations of fragility identified by beneficiaries. This process, which was launched before the situation brutally worsened in 2013, is currently overshadowed by the concrete actions undertaken by the Central African Republic’s international partners in order to end the crisis.
France and the Central African Republic signed a defence partnership agreement in April 2010, governing our military cooperation and the operational support provided by France. This operational support was first provided by the “Boali” detachment for the Mission for the Consolidation of Peace in the Central African Republic (MICOPAX), and continued through Operation Sangaris and with the United Nations Security Council mandate for MISCA and then MINUSCA.
France’s structural military cooperation was effectively suspended on 24 March 2013, having aimed to support the Central African Republic’s armed forces (FACA) so as to help them better control their territory. Our cooperation mainly focused on training, high-level advice and the reorganization of armed forces and the gendarmerie. A gradual resumption of this multifaceted support is being considered.
Updated: 22 January 2016