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.
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 imagination means learning to look at the world and understand it from an African point of view. That is the role of Africa 2020, the Season of African Cultures. From June to December 2020, hundreds of African artists and intellectuals will exhibit their creative works throughout France, while similar events will be held in Africa.
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”. France has already committed to Benin to make the return to this country of 26 requested works possible, and has returned the sabre of Omar Saidou Tall to Senegal, which is now on display in the Museum of Black Civilizations in Dakar.
“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, in the Abidjan metro project.
The next Africa-France Summit, which will be held in Bordeaux in June 2020, will have the theme of sustainable cities. For the first time, it will bring together African and French political, economic, financial and institutional actors to act and commit to sustainable cities of the future and meet the huge challenges posed by the considerable urbanization expected in Africa in the coming decades.
In 2019 France’s commitment was translated into an increase of €1 billion in official development assistance. 50% of the AFD’s activities are conducted in Africa and 80% of its funds are allocated in this continent.
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.