France and Democratic Republic of the Congo
France’s action in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is guided by its commitment to the principle of respecting the sovereignty of this major African power. The stability of the country, which has considerable economic potential, is essential for the peace and development of the Great Lakes Region and Central Africa. France and the Democratic Republic of the Congo have a special relationship founded on the sharing of the French language.
- Joseph Kabila was received by Jacques Chirac, then President of the Republic, in January 2001 and November 2001, on 9 September 2002 and on 3 February 2004 (a meeting also took place in New York during the UN General Assembly on 21 September 2006). He made an official visit to France on 16 and 17 July 2008 and again on 21 May 2014.
- President Sarkozy visited the Democratic Republic of the Congo on 26 March 2009, in the first French presidential visit Kinshasa to since 1984.
- President Hollande attended the Francophonie Summit in Kinshasa on 13 October 2012, an event which had a substantial bilateral aspect.
- Franco-British tour in the Great Lakes Region (January 2002); 22-23 September 2002: visit to Kinshasa by Mr de Villepin, Minister of Foreign Affairs;
- 21-23 February 2003: visit to Kinshasa and Kisangani by Mr Wiltzer, Minister Delegate for Cooperation and Francophonie;
- 21 November 2005 and 24 March 2007: visits to Kinshasa by Ms Girardin, Minister Delegate for Cooperation, Development and Francophonie;
- 25-26 January 2008: visit to Kinshasa and Goma by Mr Kouchner, Minister of Foreign Affairs;
- 22-24 May 2008: visit to Kinshasa by Mr Borloo, Minister for Ecology, Energy, Sustainable Development and Town and Country Planning;
- 7-10 June 2008: visit to Kinshasa, Goma and Bukavu by Ms Yade, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and Human Rights;
- 1-2 November 2008: visit to Kinshasa, Goma, Kigali and Dar-es-Salaam by Mr Kouchner and his British counterpart, Mr Miliband, and Mr Joyandet, Minister of State for Cooperation and Francophonie;
- 7 November 2008: participation in the Nairobi international summit on the crisis in the east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo by Mr Joyandet;
- 29 November-1 December 2008: visit to Kinshasa and Goma by Ms Yade;
- 15 December 2008: meeting in Paris between Mr Thambwe, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mr Kouchner, and Ms Yade;
- 23 November 2009: meeting in Paris between Mr José Endundo, Minister of the Environment of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Mr Borloo;
- 8 January 2010: visit to Kinshasa by Mr Kouchner;
- 8-9 February 2010: visit to Kinshasa by Ms Idrac, Minister of State for Foreign Trade;
- 15 February 2010: visit to Paris by Mr Thambwe, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Democratic Republic of the Congo;
- 29-30 June 2010: visit to Kinshasa by Mr Joyandet, Minister of State for Cooperation and Francophonie, to mark the 50th anniversary of the independence of the Democratic Republic of the Congo;
- 4 July 2011: visit to Kinshasa by Mr Douillet, Minister of State for French Nationals Abroad;
- 24-28 July 2012: visit to Kinshasa by Ms Benguigui, Minister Delegate for Francophonie;
- 13 October 2012: presence of several members of the Government (Mr Fabius, Ms Benguigui, Mr Canfin, Mr Lurel) in the delegation of the President of the French Republic;
- 13-16 November 2012: visit to Paris by Mr Matata Ponyo, Prime Minister of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (meetings with Mr Ayrault, Prime Minister, Mr Fabius, Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Mr Moscovici, Minister of the Economy and Finance);
- 8-10 July 2013: visit to Kinshasa and Bukavu by Ms Trierweiler and Ms Benguigui, Minister Delegate for Francophonie;
- 28-30 June 2014: visit to the Democratic Republic of the Congo by Ms Lebranchu, Minister of Decentralization, State Reform and the Civil Service (centred on the opening of the National School of Public Administration in Kinshasa);
- 24 February 2015: visit to Paris by Mr Raymond Tshibanda, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Democratic Republic of the Congo;
- November 2015: visit to Paris by Mr Maker Mwangu Famba, Minister of Primary, Secondary and Vocational Education of the Democratic Republic of the Congo;
- January 2016: visit to Paris by Mr Thambwe, Minister of Justice and Mr Isumbisho Mwapu, Minister of the Civil Service of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The bilateral trade balance is traditionally in favour of France, with gradually increasing flows (+100% between 2009 and 2014). French exports are concentrated in the sectors of mechanical equipment (30%), pharmaceuticals (28%), agricultural and agrifood products (24%). France’s imports (which represent about 1% of exports from the Democratic Republic of the Congo) also consist essentially of agricultural and agrifood products (77%).
The budget (Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development / Agence française de développement – AFD, French Development Agency) that France dedicates to bilateral assistance for the Democratic Republic of the Congo has gradually been restored since the end of the civil war. It is focused on the fields of education, environmental protection and biodiversity, and health. Actions are also carried out in the field of governance (support to financial administrations and establishing the rule of law), the teaching of French (the Democratic Republic of the Congo is the largest French-speaking country in the world), cultural diversity, and support for civil society.
The presidential visit in October 2012, which had a substantial bilateral aspect, was an opportunity to announce greater assistance in several areas: Mr Laurent Fabius, Minister of Foreign Affairs, signed two new financing conventions for project assistance for populations, worth €250,000. Ms Benguigui, Minister Delegate for Francophonie, announced other commitments to support populations: €450,000 in the framework of the UNHCR, €1 million of food aid. She signed an agreement with the organisation Heal Africa, which provides care for children with HIV, to the sum of €200,000.
The debt-reduction and development contract signed in July 2013 provides for the allocation to education, vocational training, water sanitation and financial governance of an envelope of €170 million over the 2014-2022 period, strengthening our cooperation with the Democratic Republic of the Congo considerably.
Francophonie, education, culture: Kinshasa 2012
The Democratic Republic of the Congo has two Institut français (French Institute) branches: La Halle de la Gombe, in Kinshasa, and La Halle de l’Étoile, in Lubumbashi. The opening of two more branches is planned in 2016: La Halle des Grands Lacs in Bukavu, and La Halle des Volcans, in Goma.
The René Descartes French school (Lycée) in Kinshasa was established in 1964. It is under contract with the Agency for French Education Abroad (AEFE). The Lycée Blaise Pascal in Lubumbashi reopened in September 2009. These schools offer teaching at all primary and secondary levels and have a total of almost 1250 pupils.
A strong network of Alliances françaises, which have the status of non-profit associations under local law, is being reactivated in order to cover many of the country’s urban areas.
Kinshasa hosted the October 2012 Francophonie Summit.
France supports training in several military establishments: the military staff academy, an NCO academy and an infantry academy. It contributed to the training of a battalion participating in the standby force of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS). Furthermore, France has participated in the European EUSEC mission (assistance to the reform of the security forces).
A French-funded forensic laboratory has been operational since 2009, and has been used on several occasions in sensitive cases.