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francafrique, françafrique tiken jah fakoly album
Françafrique French pronunciation: ​fʁɑ̃safʁik is France's relationship with its former colonies in Africa5 The term is sometimes applied to the former Belgian colonies, as wellcitation needed It was first used in a positive sense by President Félix Houphouët-Boigny of Côte d'Ivoire, in allusion to that country's economic growth and political stability However, the term is now sometimes used to criticize the allegedly neocolonial relationship France has with its former colonies in Africa Since the independence of African states in 1960, France has intervened militarily more than 30 times in the continent6 France has military bases in Gabon,7 Senegal,8 and Djibouti,9 as well as in its overseas departments of Mayotte and Réunion in the Indian Ocean10 The French Army is also deployed in Mali,11 Chad,12 Central African Republic,13 Somalia14 and Ivory Coast15 There is an ongoing dispute as to whether "Françafrique" still exists161718 Since 2012, some have spoken of a "return of Françafrique"1920 On 14 July 2013, troops from 13 African countries marched with the French military during the Bastille Day parade in Paris for the first time since French colonial troops were dissolved21


  • 1 Definition of the concept
    • 11 Origin of the expression
    • 12 Historical context
    • 13 Countries concerned
  • 2 "Françafrique" framework
    • 21 African Elysée's cell
    • 22 Underground diplomacy
    • 23 Development aid
  • 3 "Françafrique" today
  • 4 Quotations about "Françafrique"
  • 5 See also
  • 6 References
  • 7 External links

Definition of the conceptedit

Origin of the expressionedit

The term "Françafrique" seems to have been used for the first time, in a positive sense, in 1955 by President Félix Houphouët-Boigny of Côte d'Ivoire, who advocated maintaining a close relationship with France, while acceding to independence Close cooperation between Houphouët-Boigny and Jacques Foccart, chief adviser on African policy in the Charles de Gaulle and Georges Pompidou governments 1958–1974 is thought to have contributed to the "Ivorian miracle" of economic and industrial progress22

The term was subsequently borrowed by François-Xavier Verschave as the title of his 1999 criticism of French policies in Africa: La Françafrique, le plus long scandale de la République ISBN 2-234-04948-2 Verschave and the association Survie, of which he was president until his death in 2005, re-used the expression of Houphouët-Boigny to name and denounce the many concealed bonds between France and Africa He later defined Françafrique as "the secret criminality in the upper echelons of French politics and economy, where a kind of underground Republic is hidden from view" He said that it also means "France à fric" fric is a slang word for "cash", and that "Over the course of four decades, hundreds of thousands of euros misappropriated from debt, aid, oil, and cocoa or drained through French importing monopolies, have financed French political-business networks all of them offshoots of the main neo-Gaullist network, shareholders' dividends, the secret services' major operations and mercenary expeditions"23

Historical contextedit

Charles de Gaulle at the inauguration of the Brazzaville Conference, 1944

When French President Charles de Gaulle came back into power in 1958, anti-colonization movements and other international forces pressured France to give independence to the French colonies in Africa except Algeria, whose status was separate In the meantime De Gaulle put Jacques Foccart, one of his close friends, in charge of maintaining a de facto dependency2425 Therefore, from 1960 to 1974, Jacques Foccart held the function of chief advisor to the government of France on African policy He was re-selected in 1986 by the new Prime Minister, Jacques Chirac, for two years26 When Chirac gained the presidency in 1995 Foccart was brought back again to the Elysée palace as an advisor Until his death Foccart never stopped being influential in French-African diplomatic relations, and it is commonly considered that he and De Gaulle were the founding fathers of the neo-colonial relationship between France and Africa27 Throughout successive French governments until Sarkozy, defence of the African backyard, despite the evolution of forms and methods, has always remained a high strategic imperative

Initially, the "Françafrique" policy was motivated by three strategic concerns:

  • Economic  : provided and secured access to strategic raw materials oil, uranium, etc and offered preferential investment outlets for French multinational companies
  • Diplomatic : Maintained the declining status of France as a global powerhouse with a network of ally countries supporting the French vote in international institutions
  • Political : Deterred the communist expansion in Africa by backing anti-communist régimes as well as increasing the presence of French military bases on the continent

Countries concernededit

Françafrique includes all of French-speaking Africa, ie former French and Belgian colonies in Africa: Togo, Republic of the Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, Senegal, Côte d'Ivoire, Cameroon, Burundi, Chad, Comoros, Gabon, Burkina Faso, Madagascar, Benin, Tunisia, Morocco, Guinea, Niger, Djibouti, Mali, Central African Republic, Mauritania, Algeria, and also other countries like Equatorial Guinea, where France gained influence after its independence from Spain

Not all countries are affected by Françafrique to the same extent Petroleum dictatorships like Gabon and the Democratic Republic of Congo are the archetypes of "Françafrique"citation needed In such countries, the relationships between the leaders and the French authorities are very closely knit, given the prevalence of the Total group in the economy The situation is similar in other autocratic countries like Togo, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad and the Central African Republic

On the other hand, in other former colonies like the Maghreb countries or the Côte d'Ivoire, which had had a conflict relationship with France in the past, the French influence and networks are much less evident than in the countries mentioned above, even if the economic aspect shares some similarities with the practices of Françafriquecitation needed Lastly, democratic countries like Mali and Senegal are less concerned by this phenomenon, for both economic and historical reasonscitation needed

"Françafrique" frameworkedit

African Elysée's celledit

France's African policy has always been directed apart from the French foreign ministry It is managed from the 'Elysée Palace, seat of the French Presidency More precisely, French policy on Africa is managed from the Elysée’s Africa cell at 2 rue de l’Elysée, Paris, where the President and his advisors make decisions on military support for African countries or for their ruling governments

The Africa group's founding father, Jacques Foccart, was appointed by President Charles de Gaulle and after that became a specialist on African matters at the Elysée Palace Between 1986 and 1992, Jean-Christophe Mitterrand, the son of President François Mitterrand and a former AFP journalist in Africa, held the position of chief adviser on African policy at the Elysée African cell, which got him nicknamed "Papamadi" translated as "Daddy told me", and replaced it with just a diplomatic advisor on Africa but the difference in titles was only symbolic The new mentor on African matters at the Elysée is general secretary Claude Guéant, a close aide to the president

Underground diplomacyedit

The French consular network in Africa is extensive, although this is also generally the case in many other regions worldwide France has the second most extensive consular network worldwide after the US28 But the "Françafrique" is more a matter of concealed networks and unofficial emissaries rather than a matter of "official" diplomacy Around the official representative of the French interests, there is also a maze of power consisting of political leaders, businessmen, intelligence agents, and military corps or mercenaries

Many players have combined official and unofficial activities: for example, Maurice Robert, a former intelligence agent who became the chief executive of SDECE, the French External Documentation and Counter-Espionage Service formerly the DGSE, General Directorate for External Security in Africa In the ambit of his new appointment, he led many military actions in Africa, helping or deposing heads of state in accordance with French interests in these countries More particularly, he supervised operations for the notorious mercenary Bob Denard In 1973, he was pushed aside from the intelligence services and then directly employed by the petroleum company Elf In 1979,\ he was appointed French ambassador to Gabon, on the demand of President Omar Bongo of Gabon, whom he had helped to take power In 1982, he went back to Elf where he finished his career before retirement29

Another of the most active unofficial intermediaries of the "Françafrique" is the Franco-Lebanese lawyer Robert Bourgi, close aide to the Bongo family and to many other African leaders, and also an informal advisor to President Nicolas Sarkozy Robert Bourgi admitted that he supplanted the Secretary of State for Overseas Development, Jean-Marie Bockel Bockel wanted to break away from the "Françafrique", and in response to a question from a journalist from Le Monde in January 2008, he said that he wanted to "sign the death certificate of Françafrique"30 This displeased the African dictators, who preferred to address Robert Bourgi as an intermediary In 2009, Bourgi, on behalf of the French government, supported the presidential election of Ali Bongo Ondimba, son of former President Omar Bongo31

Development aidedit

French development aid in Africa is based on two organizations: the AFD French Development Agency which handles government-to-government funding, and PROPARCO Promotion and Participation for Economic Cooperation, a subsidiary of the AFD which funds the private sector in developing countries

"Françafrique" todayedit

Former President of France François Hollande with King Mohammed VI of Morocco and other world leaders in Marrakesh

The "Françafrique" policy came under the spotlight once more after the January 2010 attacks on Togo's national football team France has been accused of meddling in Angolan affairs by backing of separatist groups such as Front for the Liberation of the Enclave of Cabinda and harboring their leaders32

In 2010, the presidents of France's former colonies in Africa were invited for lunch at the Elysée Palace with then-president Nicolas Sarkozy The invitation had brought a lot of criticism Although Sarkozy had promised pension benefits to every former soldier in France's African colonies, the French association Survie felt that the French government was still looking out for its own benefits33

President François Hollande likewise maintained the promise of the previous Elysée government to end Françafrique34 However, Hollande authorized military interventions in Mali, the Central African Republic and Chad, which was a departure from the previous government's policy of disengagement in Africa and a rapprochement toward Françafrique19

In February 2015, France launched AfricaFrance, a foundation headed by Lionel Zinsou and endorsed by the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs to 'relaunch' the relationship between France and Africa35

Quotations about "Françafrique"edit

  • Omar Bongo, former president of Gabon: "Gabon without France is like a car with no driver France without Gabon is like a car with no fuel" 18 September 1996 reported during an interview for the newspaper Libération
  • François Mitterrand, then the French minister of the interior: "Without Africa, France will have no history in the 21st century" 195736
  • Jacques Godfrain, former French foreign minister: "A little country France, with a small amount of strength, we can move a planet because of our…relations with 15 or 20 African countries…"

See alsoedit


  • The French African Connection 2013, three-part documentary series by Al Jazeera


  • Françafrique documentaire fr, movie by Patrick Benquet, 2010
  • Le Professionnel, action movie by Georges Lautner 1981
  • Fratricide in Burkina: Thomas Sankara and French Africa, movie by Didier Mauro and Thuy-Tiën Ho 2008


  • Françafrique, album and song by Tiken Jah Fakoly
  • Pompafric, song by Tryo
  • Françafrique, song by Refused


  • Mme Bâ fr, novel by Érik Orsenna 2003


  1. ^ a b Population Reference Bureau "2013 World Population Data Sheet" PDF Retrieved 12 September 2013 
  2. ^ United Nations "World Population Prospects: The 2012 Revision" XLS Retrieved 12 September 2013 
  3. ^ "Agora: La francophonie de demain" Retrieved 13 June 2011 
  4. ^ "Bulletin de liaison du réseau démographie" PDF Retrieved 14 June 2011 
  5. ^ Steven Erlanger 12 September 2011 "Rwandan Leader, in Paris, Seeks to Ease Tensions" The New York Times 
  6. ^ RFI -14 July 2010 – Olivier Fourt – 1960–2010, 50 ans d’interventions militaires françaises en Afrique
  7. ^ French Ministry of Defence – Les Forces françaises au Gabon
  8. ^ French Ministry of Defence – Les Éléments français au Sénégal
  9. ^ French Ministry of Defence – Les forces françaises stationnées à Djibouti
  10. ^ French Ministry of Defence – Les Forces armées en zone sud de l'Océan Indien
  11. ^ French Ministry of Defence – Mali
  12. ^ French Ministry of Defence – Les éléments français au Tchad EFT
  13. ^ French Ministry of Defence – Les forces françaises en République Centrafricaine
  14. ^ French Ministry of Defence – Opération EU NAVFOR Somalie / Atalante – Lutte contre la piraterie
  15. ^ French Ministry of Defence – Les forces françaises en Côte d'Ivoire
  16. ^ Samuël Foutoyet, Nicolas Sarkozy ou la Françafrique décomplexée, Tribord, 2009, p 11 French
  17. ^ 50 years later, Françafrique is alive and well – Christophe Boisbouvier – 16 February 2010 – RFI English
  18. ^ Reconnaissons que l'Elysée rompt avec la « Françafrique », article by Venance Konan, Le Monde, 16 avril 2011 French
  19. ^ a b The New York Times – The Return of Françafrique – PIERRE HASKI – 21 July 2013
  20. ^ Al Jazeera – Ending 'Francafrique' – 12 March 2013
  21. ^ France24 - African troops march with French for Bastille Day - 14 July 2013
  22. ^ DO 5 February 2009 "Big Read: Félix Houphouët-Boigny: Builder of modern Ivory Coast" The Daily Observer Retrieved 27 August 2013 
  23. ^ Survie France French
  24. ^ Bruno Charbonneau, France and the New Imperialism, Ashgate, 1994
  25. ^ Anton Andereggen, France's Relationship with Subsaharan Africa, Praeger Publishers, 1994
  26. ^ Eric Berman; Katie E Sams; Institute for Security Studies South Africa 2000 Peacekeeping in Africa: Capabilities and Culpabilities United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research p 355 ISBN 9290451335 
  27. ^ Dr Lansine Kaba 15 Aug 2013 "Q&A: France's connections in Africa" Al-Jazeera 
  28. ^ "Bilateral embassies" France Diplomatie Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs France Retrieved 27 August 2013 
  29. ^ François Soudan : Maurice Robert, Jeune Afrique, 6 décembre 2005 French
  30. ^ "Jean-Marie Bockel : " Je veux signer l'acte de décès de la "Françafrique"" Jean-Marie Bockel: "I want to sign the death certificate of the Françafrique" in French Le Monde 16 January 2008 Retrieved 13 January 2010  French
  31. ^ Interview Robert Bourgi, RTL, 7 septembre 2009 French
  32. ^ Angela Charlton 12 January 2010 "Togo Bus Rampage Exposes France's Angola Ties" The New York Times Retrieved 13 January 2010 
  33. ^ Guillaume Guguen 13 July 2010 "Elysée lunch for heads of former French colonies draws criticism" France 24 Retrieved 13 July 2010 
  34. ^ "Hollande hails 'new chapter' between France and Africa" Web France 24 12 October 2012 Retrieved 16 October 2012 
  35. ^ "After BusinessFrance, France launches AfricaFrance" Web FDIMagnet 6 February 2014 Retrieved 6 February 2015 
  36. ^ "Mitterrand l'africain" PDF Sans l'Afrique il n'y aura pas d'histoire de France au XXIe siècle 

External linksedit

  • The French African Connection 2013, 3-part documentary series by Al Jazeera
  • François-Xavier Verschave about what Françafrique meansEnglish
  • 50 years later Françafrique is alive and well Christophe Boisbouvier, Radio France Internationale English
  • Africa: 50 years of independence Radio France Internationale English
  • French foreign policy in Africa: between pré carré and multilateralism by Sylvain Touati English

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