France-Africa Ties Must Go Deeper

Published on 10th February 2015

The recent France-Africa forum ended on a high note with the launching of a new Africa-France foundation that will improve the skills-base amongst young African adults. France has already accorded the Foundation three million euros and hopes that other governments and businesses will chip in thereafter. The foundation is expected to accredit training centres; offer "leadership" training for senior executives across Africa; and train "young directors." The Foundation is expected to directly impact 300 million African children in 20 years.

While focus on the skills factor is good for Africa, the French government must further prove its goodwill by going an extra mile to address other factors that have perennially stifled growth on the continent. For instance, in Francophone Africa, French companies are allegedly given first preference in the award of government contracts even if respective African countries can obtain better value for money elsewhere. In Côte d’Ivoire, for example, French companies control major industries (eg construction and agriculture) and utilities (water, electricity, telephone, transport, ports and major banks.) Through a colonial pact, France, has been holding national reserves of 14 African countries since 1961. By freeing its hold on the above, France can unleash the much needed revenue and opportunities that respective African countries need to move forward.

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