The diasporas, the other ambition of Emmanuel Macron’s African policy

To analyse. At the Elysée, on several occasions, as at the Africa-France summit in Montpellier, Emmanuel Macron said and repeated that the diaspora was ” a chance “. A chance “For what we have to do in France and to help us succeed in this adventure with Africa”, he said on October 8. “The president considers this diaspora as an asset”, would like to clarify one of its advisers.

With less than six months of the presidential election, this “asset” is not suddenly courted to counter the extreme right – and Eric Zemmour – or to glean votes in the next election, even if electoral ulterior motives are probably not not absent. In fact, since he has been at the Elysee Palace, Mr. Macron has wanted to put the diaspora at the service of his diplomacy and make it a bridge to reach the other side of the Mediterranean. The image of France being particularly degraded in this part of the world, the president sought to speak to Africa differently. He had to renew – and transform – looks by finding other interlocutors.

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“It was the blind spot of our policy”, recognizes an adviser of the Elysee. While France is losing influence in the face of the increased presence of China, Turkey and Russia on the continent. “We have a comparative advantage over our competitors: millions of French people who have an affinity with Africa”, he adds. Thus, for Emmanuel Macron, the diaspora can be “An accelerator of change in relations between France and Africa, explains this diplomat. It is still necessary to mobilize it ”.

Redefining ties without paternalism

To involve her, the president wanted to address her directly “By seeking to free oneself from institutional shackles”, as one of his advisers explains. In August 2017, he set up the Presidential Council for Africa (CPA), a body supposed to feed its African policy and give more space to civil societies with the promise of direct access to the Elysee Palace. This approach was to put an end to “To the well-established habit of aging diplomatic networks, adds the Elyos source. There are no better ambassadors than binationals ”. Certainly, but in four years of existence, the CPA has failed to impose itself and is seen more as an empty shell than as a “soft power” tool.

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To convince of his sincerity to “Rethink” the relationship between these two neighbors, the president had to reassure and give pledges; prove that the time of “Françafrique” was over and that the former colonial power was ready to redefine its links with the continent without paternalism. Following his speech in Ouagadougou, in November 2017, he began to restore African heritage (in Benin, for example) and began a memorial reconciliation with Rwanda or Algeria. Before announcing the end of the CFA franc.

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The diasporas, the other ambition of Emmanuel Macron’s African policy