News / Europe

Politics, Economics Influence Africa's French Connection

FILE - French President Francois Hollande (R) and Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius attend the opening session of the Elysee Summit for Peace and Security in Africa at the Elysee Palace, in Paris, Dec. 6, 2013.
FILE - French President Francois Hollande (R) and Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius attend the opening session of the Elysee Summit for Peace and Security in Africa at the Elysee Palace, in Paris, Dec. 6, 2013.
Pamela Dockins
About two-thirds of the 8,400 French troops involved in foreign operations are based in Africa, primarily in Mali and the Central African Republic. Meanwhile, French President Francois Hollande said recently that he wants his country to double its trade to Africa over the next five years. Together, the developments could indicate the former colonial power in Africa is again trying to bolster its influence on the continent. 
 
France has carried out more than 10 major military interventions on the African continent since the early 1990s, in countries including Chad, Ivory Coast and Libya.
 
This year, France gained international attention for its leading role in intervening in the crisis in Mali and now the Central African Republic.
 
Peter Pham, the director of the Atlantic Council's Africa Center, thinks France has a variety of motives for its recent military forays into Africa.
 
On VOA's Encounter Program, he said one reason is French President Francois Hollande's lagging support at home.
 
"His poll numbers have cratered and one of the few areas that he enjoys a certain support in the French electorate has been his foreign policy. The intervention in Mali was very popular and he certainly received a lot of applause for the intervention in the CAR," explained Pham.
 
In addition to political motives, Pham pointed out that France has economic and humanitarian interests in Africa.
 
Paul Melly, a journalist and Africa analyst at Chatham House, said he does not think France is on an all-out push for expansion in Africa.
 
"I don’t think it is a crude traditional attempt to restore or enhance French influence. I think it is a more mature or considered view, if you like. Over the long term, it’s in France’s interest just as in the interest of Europe as a whole for Africa to be stable and prosperous," said Melly.
 
This month, President Hollande hosted about 40 African leaders at a Paris summit. Ahead of the meeting, Hollande announced that he wanted to double France's exports to the continent over the next five years.
 
His comments came at a time when China dominates trade with Africa, and countries such as Brazil and India are trying to make inroads.
 
Aline Leboeuf, a researcher at the French Institute of International Relations, said that while France is trying to increase its economic influence in Africa, it is not necessarily trying to take on China.
 
"What France would like to do is increase its presence in the field of business in Africa in general and especially in Anglophone countries," said Leboeuf.
 
She noted that France is especially interested in boosting its business presence in the larger African countries, such as Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa.
 
Lansiné Kaba, a history professor at Carnegie Mellon University and the former president of the African Studies Association at Rutgers University, said that there is a notable distinction between China's more recent involvement in Africa and what France has been doing.
 
"The relationship cannot, for the time being, and should not, for the time being, compare to that of France. China does not intervene in a military manner throughout Africa. The Chinese have been investing primarily," Kaba pointed out.
 
Professor Kaba says France is doing what it knows how to do in Africa: develop meaningful relationships with African states.

You May Like

Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Seen as a potential driver of recovery, Cairo’s plan to expand waterway had been raising hopes to give country much needed economic boost More

Ebola Maternity Ward in Sierra Leone First of its Kind

Country already had one of world's highest maternal mortality rates before Ebola arrived, virus has added even more complications to health care More

Malaysia Flight 370 Disappearance Ruled Accident

Aircraft disappeared on March 8, 2014; with ruling, families of 239 passengers and crew can now seek compensation from airline More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Groundbreaking Hand-Painted Documentary About Van Gogh in Productioni
X
George Putic
January 29, 2015 9:43 PM
The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Groundbreaking Hand-Painted Documentary About Van Gogh in Production

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Web

Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Freedom on Decline Worldwide, Report Says

The state of global freedom declined for the ninth consecutive year in 2014, according to global watchdog Freedom House's annual report released Wednesday. VOA's William Gallo has more.
Video

Video MRI Seems to Help Diagnose Prostate Cancer, Preliminary Study Shows

Just as with mammography used to detect breast cancer, there's a lot of controversy about tests used to diagnose prostate cancer. Fortunately, a new study shows doctors may now have a more reliable way to diagnose prostate cancer for high risk patients. More from VOA's Carol Pearson.
Video

Video Smartphones About to Make Leap, Carry Basic Senses

Long-distance communication contains mostly sounds and pictures - for now. But scientists in Britain say they are close to creating additions for our smartphones that will make it possible to send taste, smell and even a basic touch. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video Crowded Republican Presidential Field Off to Early Start for 2016

It seems early, but the 2016 U.S. presidential election campaign is already heating up. Though no one has officially announced a candidacy, several potential Republican contenders have been busy speaking to conservative groups about making a White House run next year. Many of the possible contenders are critical of the Obama administration’s foreign policy record. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid