In December, France hosted the Elysée Summit for Peace and Security in Africa. Apart from seeking to combat violence in the region, the conference revealed France's clear pivot towards Africa, as the cabinet minister explained to The Africa Report.
The Africa Report: François Hollande is holding his first Africa-France summit. What do you expect from it?
Pierre Moscovici: This is a major political event – a landmark – and it comes at a time when relations between Africa and France have reached a high standard. France has shown its commitment to the continent, and François Hollande has shown particular courage in Mali intervening to defend the principle of peoples' freedom. One of the major issues of this summit will be to extend the security dimension. France and Africa share a common destiny.
The economic element of the conference is an important one.
There is an awareness of the enormous economic potential of Africa. This is certainly a heterogeneous continent. However, it is converging with the BRICS [Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa], meaning a growing number of African countries are now emerging, with a growing middle class. The job of [the finance ministry] is to promote the development of a truly mutually beneficial partnership that extends the value chain to both our respective territories, what we call 'co-localisation'. We need to be very ambitious, which is why I propose that we set the goal of doubling trade between the continent and France.
Is France not a little slow to take advantage of African growth?
I do not intend to [...] question how things operated in the past. We must look to the future. [...] I asked five people with connections to Africa – diplomat Hubert Védrine, financier Lionel Zinsou, economist Hakim El Karoui, former Agence Française de Développement president Jean-Michel Severino and insurer Tidjane Thiam – to give me a report examining the fact that Africa's and France's growth are inextricably linked. The economic agenda of African leaders is also our agenda. From my discussion with the report's authors, it appears there are undeniable advantages for us: Africans will comprise 85% of the world's French speakers by 2050.●