Before leaving for Gabon, Emmanuel Macron gave a speech to outline the lines of France's new African policy. He calls for a “new Africa-France partnership”.
He promised “a pre-match discussion, before moving onto the field”. Emmanuel Macron is going to Gabon from tomorrow to begin a mini-tour, which will pass through the two Congos and through Angola. If the French president sees this trip as a football match, it is in particular because of the ground lost by Paris on the continent, in the face of Russian, Chinese or even Turkish influences. Of Mali to Burkina Faso, France has lost a lot of ground in its former square meadows.
During his speech on Monday, he also discussed recent events in Burkina Faso, where France was forced to send its soldiers from Operation Saber. The Head of State spoke of a “transformation” of French military bases on the continent, which “will begin in the coming months with a visible reduction in our numbers and a rise in power in these bases of our African partners”. In other words, Macron proposes to move away from "the logic of predation" of other foreign powers to focus on training.
No competition with other powers
A speech supposed to protect the interests of a France increasingly tossed about in Africa. The military bases, assures Macron, will "change their appearance, their logic of imprint", to no longer be "a legacy of the past". Military bases are, according to the French president, “a pretext for many opponents of France”. They will now be managed in partnership with the African countries in which they are established.
Macron has noticed, in recent months, that the French strategy — his own, in particular — was not the right one. However, the continent should not be the "backyard" of Paris, nor enter into a "competition" with other foreign powers. However, these words are the fruit of a reflection that began after France lost ground in Africa to its “competitors”. Be that as it may, Macron offers Africa "a new balanced, reciprocal and responsible relationship".
After words, the French president will have to give way to deeds. And this will begin with symbolic acts: Emmanuel Macron took advantage of his speech to announce the forthcoming publication of "a framework law" which will aim to "carry out new restitutions" of works of art "for the benefit of African countries that request it”. We are still a long way from the promises made throughout Emmanuel Macron's speech. But to read between the lines, we notice that the Élysée knows that France is quite badly embarked in Africa and that its African policy requires some adjustments.