In November 2017, French President Emmanuel Macron gave a policy speech in Ouagadougou, which launched a new relationship between France and countries on the African continent. Targeting young people in particular, the President launched a new era of relations between France and Africa, which is translated into commitments in key areas for the future of the continent, based on a more partnership-based relationship with African countries.
The renewal of this relationship was a central issue at the New Africa-France Summit (NSAF) taking place on 8 October 2021 in Montpellier. Dedicated to the young people of Africa and drivers of change, the NSAF focused on five main topics:
- Citizen engagement and democracy,
- Higher education and research,
- Entrepreneurship and innovation,
- Sport and development.
It is not simply French-African dialogue that we must rebuild together, but a project between our two continents, a truly new relationship.
President Emmanuel Macron,
Ouagadougou Speech, 27 November 2017
A total of 2.5 billion people are expected to live in Africa in 2050. Some 450 million young Africans are due to enter the workforce from 2017 to 2020. Education is an absolute priority when it comes to meeting the population challenge over the long term, boosting economic growth and fighting inequalities.
That is why France announced that it was increasing its contribution to the Global Partnership for Education tenfold and was significantly scaling up its efforts regarding primary education. It committed to doubling the number of university cooperation programmes between French and African institutions by 2022. It is with this in mind that the French-Ivorian education hub (with more than 100 programmes) and the French-Senegalese campus (awarding students in Africa dual degrees issued by French and Senegalese institutions while studying in their home country) were developed.
With Choose Africa, a project conducted by the Agence Française de Développement (AFD) and BPI France, €2.5 billion is to be invested from 2018 to 2022 to support young and innovative African businesses. Other projects also support this commitment including the Social Inclusive Business Camp (SIBC), an accelerator programme for successful social inclusive businesses, Digital Africa and the annual issuance of 1,000 “talent passports” to Africa, which enables African researchers, artists and entrepreneurs to come to France to gain experience in their area of expertise.
Building a new common consciousness means learning to look at the world and understand it from an African point of view. That was the role of Africa2020, the Season of African Cultures, designed as an “invitation to see the world from an African point of view”. Postponed due to COVID-19, Africa 2020 ran from December 2020 to September 2021. It enabled hundreds of African artists and intellectuals to share their creations across France.
This new cultural dialogue also includes an original project for La Francophonie and discussion in order to encourage over the next five years “the temporary or permanent return of African heritage to Africa”.
“Africa, from the shores of Lake Chad to the Congo Basin, is being hardest hit by the effects of climate change, but, my friends, it can also be at the forefront of solutions.” The climate and environment are now systematically taken into consideration in development projects developed by France. This support is reflected, for example, through the pilot programmes of the International Solar Alliance, and in the Abidjan metro project. The Agence Française de Développement has become the first development bank to be “100% aligned” with the Paris Agreement.
Lastly, France co-finances the multilateral “Great Green Wall” initiative, which aims to combat soil desertification across the Sahel-Sahara strip.
President Macron’s commitment to significantly increasing official development assistance funding was made a reality through the unanimous adoption of the programming bill on inclusive development and combating global inequalities, with the objective of bringing our official development assistance up to 0.55% of gross national income by 2022. Beyond figures, development policy is being re-thought to make it more partnership-based and more suited to young African people. The Sahel Alliance is a tangible illustration of this.
Since 2017, this international cooperation platform has coordinated more than 730 projects with G5 Sahel countries to address all their current security, demographic, economic and social challenges.
Europe’s security is also at play in Africa. Therefore, France rallies support from international organizations and its partners to promote African responses to the challenges posed by terrorism, conflicts and organized crime. This means providing support for African peace operations, alongside the African Union, and through the G5 Sahel Joint Force, where five countries jointly conduct operations to fight terrorism.
Collective security is also improving thanks to regionally oriented national schools, open to all African officials specializing in security issues, to gain expertise and better share working methods. A total of 17 such schools already exist, including the International Counter-Terrorism Academy (AILCT) in Abidjan. Dozens of projects have been completed in almost all African countries. The following projects have been implemented by France and its cooperation network in Africa.