French President Emmanuel Macron unveiled on Monday 27 February from the Elysée Palace, the new policy of the Hexagon on the African continent. This is a speech devoted to France’s diplomatic and military strategy on this continent where French influence is strongly contested. Emmanuel Macron called for a new “Africa-France partnership”.
For Emmanuel Macron, France must show “deep humility in the face of what is happening on the African continent”, which is “a situation without precedent in history”. Thus, “from the security and climate challenge to the demographic challenge, with young people arriving who must be offered a future for each of the African states”, it is urgent to “consolidate states and administrations, invest massively in education, health, employment, training and the energy transition”, he said.
The French Head of State also announced a “framework law” on the restitution of works of art to Africa. It “will be proposed in the coming weeks by the Minister of Culture to our Parliament” and “will make it possible to establish the methodology and criteria for carrying out” these restitutions, “based on a cultural and scientific partnership to receive and conserve these works”, he said.
A transformation of French military bases in Africa
On the military front, Emmanuel Macron spoke of a “transformation” of French military bases in Africa in order to “change the face, the logic of the footprint” and move away from “the legacy of the past” which, according to him, is “a pretext for many opponents of France. However, the French President did not forget to specify that it was not a question of withdrawal or disengagement, but of transforming the bases, for example into an “academy”.
“The transformation will begin in the coming months with a visible reduction in our workforce and an increase in the strength of our African partners in these bases,” he said, adding, “We are accountable for the past with a policy that has decided to change […] without us yet having the full results of this policy.
Moreover, it should be noted that the Hexagone has been pushed to the door, forced to put an end to its anti-terrorist operations Barkhane and Sabre as well as the withdrawal of its forces in Mali and Burkina Faso. Yet Emmanuel Macron preaches “humility” and refrains from any competition on this ground. Many would like to encourage us to enter into a competition, which I consider to be anachronistic (…),” he said. Some are coming with their armies and mercenaries here and there,” he added.
It should be noted that Emmanuel Macron’s speech comes a few days before his trip scheduled for 1-5 March, during which he is due to visit Gabon, Angola, Congo Brazzaville and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).