How much money does France make in French-speaking Africa?
France secures access to markets in its 14 former colonies in Africa, to this date, 57 years after independence. Benefits are of commercial interest: access to resources and markets. Mechanisms to support this are a shared currency (the CFA-franc), military presence, secret diplomacy and marketing its language. But … change is on the rise.
While researching about the CFA-franc, I wondered: why does France make all these efforts? And who benefits from it? Sceptics told me that 1) France hardly benefits from francophone Africa these days; that 2) a stable currency like CFA is a blessing for weak African economies; and 3) that we — Europeans — have nothing to do with it, since African leaders should be able to solve this by themselves.
It took me 4 months of desk research to be able to answer these questions. And interviews with:
who helped me to understand and to analyse the piles of information.
In this second journalistic story on France’s relations with French-speaking Africa, I am questioning: How much money does France make in countries that are amongst the poorest in the world? And will Macron — the French President claiming to bring innovation — change his African policies in favour of economic and democratic development in francophone Africa?
French tools to remain power after colonialism
After colonialization ended in 1960, France continued to secure access to resources and markets in its former African colonies. “France still has a strategic interest in maintaining the historical links to its former colonies, [also during the last decades] facing the rise of China in Africa,” Balde explains. These colonial practices — the so-called Françafrique — were modelled by President De Gaulle’s Africa advisor Foccart, right after independence and are as follows: