In Montpellier, Emmanuel Macron wants to give a facelift to the relationship between France and Africa

the essential An unprecedented Africa-France summit is taking place this Friday in Montpellier in the presence of Emmanuel Macron: no head of state from the continent is invited, but young entrepreneurs, artists, African athletes will meet their French and diaspora alter egos to discuss economic, political and cultural issues.

Hundreds of young people from African “civil society” are invited this Friday, October 8 to Montpellier by President Emmanuel Macron, for an unprecedented Africa-France summit aimed at “rebuilding” the relationship, but described as “a sham break. eye “by some African intellectuals. For the first time since 1973, start of the France-Africa summits (now Africa-France), no head of state from the continent is invited. This new format should make it possible, according to the French presidency, “to listen to the words of African youth” and “to get out of obsolete formulas and networks”. Clearly, to break, again and again, with “Françafrique”, its opaque practices and its networks of influence.

It will therefore be young entrepreneurs, artists, sportsmen from the continent who will meet their French and diaspora alter egos to discuss economic, political and cultural subjects. Then a panel of twelve young Africans, from Mali, Ivory Coast, Tunisia, South Africa, Kenya … will meet in the afternoon with President Macron in plenary session.

“Angry subjects will be on the table”

This panel was selected at the end of the dialogues carried out for months across the continent by Achille Mbembe, responsible for preparing the summit. In his report, submitted Tuesday to the French President, the Cameroonian intellectual notably considers that France is too disconnected from “new movements and political and cultural experiments” carried by African youth.

He also points out that of all the disputes, “none is as corrosive as France’s alleged support for tyranny on the continent.” The recent Chadian example, when the French president immediately lent his support to the military junta set up by son Deby after his father’s assassination, is on everyone’s mind.

This summit is being held at a time when the influence of France in its former precinct is increasingly disputed, particularly by Russia, and when Paris is in open crisis with Mali and Algeria. French military interventions, sovereignty, governance, democracy, “the angry subjects will be on the table”, insists the Elysee.

Beyond the political subjects, the summit gives a large place to the economic actors. It was preceded by meetings over two days in Paris with 350 African entrepreneurs. Another round table will be devoted to the issues of restitution of cultural goods, one of the areas in which the most critical intellectuals recognize Emmanuel Macron’s strong gestures.

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