France: a turning point in Africa policy?
Before embarking on a tour of Gabon, Angola, Congo-Brazzaville and the Democratic Republic of Congo, French President Emmanuel Macron has announced a new strategy for Africa. The military presence of French soldiers is to be reduced and France will seek equal and fair cooperation with its former colonies. Commentators debate the potential consequences of this course.
Good conditions for a new course
France's Africa strategy is a challenge, but Macron has several trump cards, columnist Pierre Haski comments on France Inter:
“The first is the African diaspora in France, with the help of which Macron wants to build bridges against national reservations. 'We must recognise France's share of Africanness,' he repeats. That will be painful to hear for some! The second is the Europeanisation of Africa policy: the president is taking two EU commissioners with him on his trip. Europe can mitigate strong reactions against France and allow it to achieve a crucial status for infrastructure projects, for example.”
La Vanguardia is concerned:
“The EU is looking for solutions to the new situation and considering the option of deploying European troops in Niger. ... The chaos in the Sahel threatens to spread to the richer and more stable countries of the Gulf of Guinea such as Ivory Coast. ... A double danger emanates from the south. On the one hand, the growing presence of jihadist organisations that could use the Sahel as a base for launching terrorist actions in southern Europe. On the other hand, the growing dependence of the countries in the region on the support of the Wagner Group - and thus of Russia.”
France and its former colonies need each other
France and Africa depend on each other, Le Figaro argues:
“A tireless Sisyphus, Macron keeps coming back to the African question. His diagnosis is clear: France cannot exclude itself from a continent that has a great future ahead of it - and if it wants to stay it must change its approach. One day Africans will realise that their real enemies are the Russian mercenaries and the Chinese investors, far more so than the former European colonial masters. How long will this take?”