Africa: a priority for French official development assistance


The French President has committed to increasing France’s official development assistance (ODA), building a new partnership policy that focuses on young people, especially in Africa. He intends to increase the percentage of French gross national income (GNI) set aside for ODA to 0.55% by 2022.

Africa is a priority recipient for ODA. One quarter of France’s bilateral ODA went towards projects in sub-Saharan Africa in 2016. This figure was one-third when multilateral assistance is taken into account.

In the region, Cameroon is France’s largest beneficiary of bilateral ODA (and third-largest beneficiary of France’s international ODA), receiving €215.12 million. It is followed by Senegal (€79.3 million), Ghana (€68.11 million), Niger (€66.21 million), Burkina Faso (€59.26 million) and Mali (€54.25 million).

At the last meeting of the French Interministerial Committee on International Cooperation and Development (CICID) on 8 February 2018, ODA was identified as one of the French President’s priorities, especially with a view to eradicating poverty, achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), implementing the Paris Climate Agreement, and protecting global public goods. The Committee approved the 2018-2022 budget, which will ensure that 0.55% of GNI is set aside for ODA, in line with the President’s wishes. According to preliminary ODA data from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), French ODA is increasing at the fastest rate (16%), given that in 2016 it amounted to €8.7 billion or 0.38% of GNI. This increase concerns both multilateral (+19%) and bilateral (+14%) assistance.

The CICID confirmed that Africa, and particularly the Sahel region, was a geographical priority for French ODA. Almost all of the countries considered to be priorities (see the list below) are in sub-Saharan Africa. France is strengthening its partnership with the entire African continent, especially young Africans, by acting on the commitments made by the French President in his speech at Ougadougou on 28 November 2017. Specifically, it is committed to supporting sustainable development and building resilience in the Sahel region. In line with the goals established by the President, France is developing activities in sectors where it has significant added value: crisis areas, education, the climate, women’s empowerment and health.

France acknowledges the important role played by private financial flows in transforming Africa economically. Currently, private financial flows towards Africa, including remittances by the African diaspora, are three or four times higher than ODA. France supports the development of inclusive financial systems and works to create a protective and rewarding environment for private investments, especially in start-ups and SMEs, which make up much of Africa’s economic fabric.

The key role of the Agence Française de Développement

From 2019 onwards, the budget of the Agence Française de Développement (AFD) will grow by €1 billion in terms of commitment authorizations. As the main agency of the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs in the ODA field, this will enable it to launch many bilateral projects in priority countries.

Two more countries, Liberia and Gambia, have been added to France’s list of 17 priority ODA countries (Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Guinea, Haiti, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal, and Togo).

This enhanced assistance will be accompanied by more effective steering at the grassroots level, thanks to partnerships with local development stakeholders that have signed partnership protocols with France.

Civil society stakeholders in Africa help define ODA goals through the National Council for Development and International Solidarity (CNDSI). This Council is a forum where all those involved in the development and international solidarity fields can meet regularly to discuss development policy goals.

Updated: February 2019