BusinessDay

France owes Africa and must partner for its growth – Macron

France ‘owes Africa’ and is committing to support all African countries, not just its former colonies, in driving the growth required for the continent’s future, President Emmanuel Macron of France, has said Friday, at the New Africa-France Summit.

“The debt that we owe Africa is a debt that is increasing by the day,” said President Macron. “More than 70 percent of Africa’s population is under 30, it is a continent filled with promise and youth,” he said, emphasising the urgency of collaborating for growth.

France, he said, has a certain history with Africa and invariably has certain duties and responsibilities, the first of which is to respond to the aspirations of the African youth. “Finding projects that correspond to those aspirations is what we should do and they will come from here,” he said.

President Macron, who was speaking at the New Africa-France Summit in Montpellier, further said the second reason for the summit, is because France as a country has been built on the relationship between it and Africa.

With more than seven million French individuals whose family lives have been intimately linked to Africa either through their first or second generation, Macron said that France cannot make plans for its future or even have a vision, without factoring in Africans.

This new summit follows a commitment made by President Macron at the University of Ouagadougou in 2017, and according to him it is only the first of many other engagements that would follow.

“It is certainly not for delegates to come, go home and continue with business as usual,” he said, emphasising the summit is expected to lead to practical outcomes for Africans and Africa.

In earlier comments, Macron referenced the work by a committee, which among other things tried to capture the frustrations of development on the African continent and the roles of countries like France. Some of the responses, he said, showed scepticism and indignation, but would form part of rebuilding Africa-France relationship.

“This new momentum has started; there is a new movement first of all because this is what we owe Africa and all its youth,” President Macron said. “All of us here have obviously not chosen our history and geography, but we have one choice that we can make, and that is to make a commitment to what it is going to become the future.”

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While the past as he said, has included some tragic histories, the French president reiterated the need for all to realise that for the present and future generation, “We have to ask ourselves another question; how do we build our future on all of this.”

Africa, he said, is a continent that should be allowed to renew its own identity, narrative, culture and also have the possibility to create and contribute to global growth. To build in areas from sports, entrepreneurship, business, and the right to have the best education and services, that is what they are owed and that is what young people in Africa expect, said President Macron.

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