French President Emmanuel Macron has established a brand new Presidential Council for Africa designed to advise him on African issues and help identify and address the many challenges facing the continent, reports France24.
In his first annual address to France’s 170 ambassadors on Tuesday, Macron reiterated his plans to place Africa in the center of his foreign policy and stated, “the future of the world will largely be played out in Africa”.
France maintains close and complex ties with its former African colonies and the wider region, and French presidents traditionally reaffirm their commitment to the continent early on in their mandates.
Libya’s peace talks and the migrant crisis in North Africa are among Macron’s main foreign policy objectives, while also striving to deliver a positive message on the continent’s development.
“Africa is not only the continent of crises and migrations; it is a continent of the future,” he told the ambassadors in Paris. “Which is why we cannot leave Africa alone to face its demographic, climatic and political challenges.”
The new Presidential Council for Africa will have 11 members – all of them “dedicated representatives of civil society”, appointed on a voluntary basis.
The council would be an advisory body designed to secure a better grasp of African issues and avoid the communication blunders that have plagued past French presidents in their relations with the continent, as Macron hopes.
The new council would advise Macron the trip first before he would soon be travelling to Burkina Faso to “carry this message”.
Macron, France’s youngest leader since Napoleon, has already faced accusations of paternalism and contempt after declaring in July that “civilisational” problems were holding Africa back, and lamenting the fact that African women have “seven or eight children”.
He will be hoping for a better reception when he delivers a keynote speech in November detailing his African policy, in what is likely to be the new council’s first major assignment.
By Marie Claire