The Franco-African diaspora and African youth, as we know from the Ouagadougou speech in November 2017, are the populations on which President Emmanuel Macron is banking the most to positively change the Africa-France relationship. The recent summit in Montpellier is a great attempt … which still needs to be transformed into economic advances.
By Jean-Louis GUIGOU
The President of the Republic wanted this Summit to be something new and to put an end to the old formulas which have for long generated repetition and frustrations. He has won his bet! Maybe even the reality exceeded his expectations?
Novelties were everywhere:
In the target: young people in the diaspora were in the spotlight. No Heads of State, no Ministers and foreign diplomats.
The goal was reached, consisting in 3000 young people who are three quarters African or Franco-African.
In the objective: this was to try to re-establish new relationships of trust and to look towards the future, jointly with the suffering and very critical African youth of France.
In the preparation of the Summit: for a year, the academic Achille MBEMBE – renowned for being himself critical and uncompromising towards France – travelled twelve African countries, listened to, consulted and identified the good interlocutors to whom it was proposed to dialogue, for three hours, with the President of the Republic. What a boon for these young people!
In the conduct and atmosphere around the Summit: after half a day of workshops and thematic forums visited by the President of the Republic, there has been a three hours long great plenary, in which, in front of 3000 jubilant participants, the President of the Republic was confronted, alone, by eleven young people determined to “challenge him”, proclaiming their anger and their frustration in an accusatory and sometimes vindictive tone of style:
– Put an end to “helpers”, paternalism and condescension!
– Asking the Africans for forgiveness for slavery, colonization, a past too heavy to bear!
– Stop protecting and collaborating with dictators!
– Stop discriminating against the diaspora and recognize it at its true value!
– Prepare for the withdrawal of military bases in Africa (as the American bases in Europe were withdrawn…)
If the President wanted strong, violent, sometimes disrespectful or demagogic expressions, the result has been achieved. Well done – the Chairman’s responses were strong and reasoned.
Finally, novelty resided in the decisions taken: the results will not be delayed: the French Development Agency (AFD) should be renamed and re-oriented towards investments useful to civil society, with an innovation fund for democracy to be created to support the actors of change in Africa, the creation of a House of African Worlds and Diasporas, etc.
This Summit was certainly “new”, but will it be impactful?
The young people have shown their anger and the President of the Republic has demonstrated his courage. Of course, the need for democracy is essential. But creating jobs and “filling the stomachs” remains essential.
After political novelty, we now need economic novelty. In this area the resistance forces are less noisy but just as tenacious.
An autonomous Foundation run by French, European, Mediterranean and African entrepreneurs, bringing together scientific milieux who can work together thematic by thematic, would constitute a powerful tool (as the IPCC for climate change) to achieve this goal.
Young Africans and the diaspora have obtained a fund and a House, while companies and scientists could obtain a Foundation which would enable them to prepare economic projects useful to Africans and Europeans, jointly and over time.