France and Zimbabwe

Political relations and visits

Bilateral visits are rare. Since the visit in May 2009 (the first ministerial visit since 1996) by Ms Anne-Marie Idrac, Minister of State for Foreign Trade, no French official has visited Zimbabwe. The desire by both countries to reingage in political dialogue and normalize their relations was made concrete with the bilateral political consultations in Harare on 5 June 2015 at the level of the Secretaries-General.

In September 2015, Ms Oppah Muchinguri, Minister of Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy, met her French counterpart, Ségolène Royal, in Paris. President Mugabe attended the Paris climate conference in December 2015 (the European sanctions regime did not prevent him from doing so). Zimbabwe’s Finance Minister, Patrick Chinamasa, met his French counterpart, Michel Sapin, in Paris on 30 June 2016. President Mugabe was present at the Bamako Summit for Partnership, Peace and Emergence in mid-January 2017. Lastly, the Minister for Agriculture, Mr Joseph Made, participated in the Paris Agriculture Fair in Paris in February 2017.

Economic relations

Although limited, economic relations between France and Zimbabwe are developing. About thirty French companies, including Total and Lafarge, are established in the country. Trade between the two countries is limited, and French exports which totalled €17 million in 2016 compared to €51 million in 1999, are dominated by mechanical and electrical equipment, while imports (€25 million in 2016 compared to €29 million in 1999) mainly involved agricultural products (Customs).

A large business delegation, led by Medef International, travelled to Zimbabwe in January 2015 and was met by the President, demonstrating the Zimbabwean government’s desire to increase trade with France. The growth sectors are infrastructure and urban services (water, transport, energy, waste, etc.), food, consumer goods, tourism, telecommunications, the mining sector and, more generally, modernizing an industrial sector which in many cases dates back to the1970s.

Cultural, scientific and technical cooperation

French assistance to Zimbabwe is mainly through multilateral and European channels. France is the second-largest contributor ($23 million per year) to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, and gives $1.5 million per year through Unitaid. France’s contribution (18%) to European aid in Zimbabwe is around €42 million (11th EDF - €234 million 2014-2020).

France contributes to sustainable Development and the protection of the environment through the Agricultural Research Centre for International Development (CIRAD). Under the COP21, France (through an AFD facility) cooperated with Zimbabwe to establish its national climate contribution. Our academic and technical cooperation is mainly focused on health and archaeology (rock art). As regards culture, the Alliance Française branches in Harare and Bulawayo, as well as the bilingual “Jean de la Fontaine” French school in Harare, help bolster the dissemination of French language and culture.

Updated: 10 November 2017