Paris summit: France repositioning itself in Africa

The summit on the financing of African economies opened in the French capital Paris on Tuesday against the backdrop of…

The summit on the financing of African economies opened in the French capital Paris on Tuesday against the backdrop of a looming third wave of the Covid-19 pandemic.By Cheikh Diop

About 30 heads of state, as well as major international economic organizations, such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank, or the African Development Bank (AfDB) will discuss African public debts and the post Covid-19 economic recovery.

The summit will be divided into two sessions, the first on “Financing and dealing with public debt” and the second on “the African private sector.”

In the fall of 2020, as Africa suffered the full brunt of the coronavirus pandemic, the IMF announced a financing gap of $290 billion in sub-Saharan Africa by 2023, requiring a readjustment of public policies.

Struck by a presumed fragility, the continent has nevertheless shown resilience in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

It has resisted the effects of the health crisis (126,572 deaths as of May 18, 2021). 

Despite a recession in its growth, the first in more than a quarter of a century, Africa is expected to rebound with figures between 3.4 percent in 2021 and 4 percent in 2022.

But the public debt burden continues to rise to staggering levels on the continent, prompting financial institutions and major powers to grant a moratorium in April 2020.

France, which is privy to the stakes involved, seized this opportunity to reposition itself in a continent in full growth and whose Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has tripled since 2000. 

The former colonial power has not only lost market shares to the benefit of India and China, but, in 2017, it also lost its status as Africa’s leading European supplier, overtaken by Germany.

The Paris Summit will, among other missions, identify ways and means of resuscitating active solidarity with Africa in the interests of the continent and Europe.

“In several French-speaking African countries, the fall in French market share is impressive – between 15 and 20 percentage points in Algeria, Morocco, Ivory Coast, and 25 in Senegal,” the French Insurance Company for Foreign Trade (Coface) said in a recent study.

At the end of the summit, a joint conference will be held by French President Emmanuel Macron and Felix Tshisekedi of the Democratic Republic of the Congo in his capacity as chairman of the African Union.

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