Franco-African Forum for Shared Growth
Paris, February 6, 2015
I’m pleased to be “co-opening” this Franco-African Forum for Shared Growth. I want to pay tribute to the organizers’ exceptional talent. I’m going to propose two ideas.
The first is very simple: that the strengthening of economic relations between Africa and France is an absolute priority for the French government. It’s said over and over again that Africa is the future. No, Africa is the continent of the present. With average growth of 5% over the past few years, a digital revolution under way, innovation in every sphere and impressive demographic growth – even though I think it has to be better balanced in some countries – we sense and share the African continent’s remarkable power of attraction and the immense value of a renewed partnership. We intend to increase our economic ties with the whole of the African continent and we know that France’s growth and Africa’s growth are in fact linked.
So the goal is clear as far as we’re concerned: to develop the most dynamic economic relations possible, on equal terms, with the whole of Africa. For this, we’re mobilizing all government tools to benefit Africa. We’re strengthening our networks:
those of the state; those of the French Development Agency; those of our new agency, Business France, which is in charge of foreign trade and attractiveness.
Private partners are also mobilized. And I want to pay tribute to Lionel Zinsou for our partnership’s new mechanism, in 2015: the Franco-African Foundation for Growth, where countless initiatives will flourish.
The second idea is that 2015 – let me take the opportunity of you being here to emphasize this – will be climate year for the world, and thus for Africa and for France, which will host the conference. A great deal is going to be at stake for Africa, with the climate issue, and a great deal for France too. We aren’t going to convince African countries, a significant proportion of whose people have no access to electricity, not to build coal-fired power stations if no other credible solutions are offered. This requires a whole series of conditions; in particular it requires offering the financial resources for low-carbon growth; this is the purpose of the Green Climate Fund, which has already been given $10 billion of funding. As a future COP president, I would like Africa to benefit from it as a priority.
There’s another issue I want to raise. In the next few weeks, all the world’s countries – and therefore the African countries too – are going to have to put forward commitments to reduce emissions and adapt to the consequences of climate disruption. When I speak to their leaders, they say that they’re willing, of course, but that they don’t always have the technical and financial resources to work out these contributions. My ministerial colleagues and I are pleased to announce that France, through the French Development Agency and our new operator, Expertise France, has decided to make the resources to finance this work on preparing the contributions directly available to Africa’s countries.
Since the 19th century, the industrialized countries have built their growth on a model which isn’t sustainable. Africa can opt straightaway for a development model which will be. Whether as regards COP21, the Franco-African Foundation for Growth or, more generally, this meeting today – which, I think, will be repeated annually –, it’s a chance for us to be together to prepare the future. I simply want to say that France will stand foursquare behind Africa in this battle for growth.