Hollande’s last Africa-France summit


The 27th Africa-France Summit was held on 13-14 January 2017 in Bamako. The summit’s two main themes were: “Peace and Security” and “Emergence, Economy and Development.” François Hollande’s choice to hold the summit in Mali allowed recalling some of his greatest foreign policy achievements. Indeed, it is in Mali that President Hollande launched Operation Serval on 11 January 2013 to counter the jihadist insurgency in the northern part of the country. By organising the summit in Bamako, it was a way of showing that Operation Serval was a success, even though security situation in the area remains fragile and there was a terrorist attack in the capital a little over a year ago; the attack on the Radisson Blu hotel killed about 20 people. In this context, the visit of some 60 official delegations, including heads of state and business leaders, could be considered reckless. But by returning to Mali, François Hollande took the opportunity to present the results of his Africa policy a few months before the end of his five-year term. This record is marked by military interventions, particularly in Mali and the Central African Republic, and a reorientation of French diplomacy on the continent, which has sought to change the practices associated with the so-called “Francafrique” policy, in favour of more balanced economic and security partnerships. In terms of the economy and development, French financing is increasing: France spends more than EUR 4 billion per year, and foresees a total of EUR 23 billion in financing for the 2014-18 period. EUR 2 billion per year are scheduled to help develop renewable energy in Africa from 2016 to 2020; France also plans to create a Franco-African investment fund for SMEs with EUR 76 million. Other projects will support vocational trainings for young people, mobilisation of the diaspora and digital development. “Beyond Francophone Africa, France aims to expand its collaboration with the whole African continent”, President Hollande declared. However, even though France is a key actor in the promotion of peace and stability in the region, it has had difficulty establishing itself in the anglophone markets of countries like Ghana, Nigeria and South Africa. The political choice to organise the summit in Bamako undoubtedly did not help increase the visibility of French companies in anglophone countries.

Watch the opening statement of François Hollande (French):