Report on “a future partnership between France and Africa” pays tribute to work of the AfDB

09/12/2013
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Thirty-two times. Indeed, the initials “AfDB”, for African Development Bank, appear 32 times in the report entitled “Un partenariat pour l’avenir: 15 propositions pour une nouvelle dynamique économique entre l’Afrique et la France” (“A partnership for the future: 15 proposals for a new economic dynamic between Africa and France”).

The 166-page document was compiled by Hubert Védrine, former French Minister for Foreign Affairs, with Lionel Zinsou, Tidjane Thiam, Jean-Michel Severino and Hackim El Karoui. It was officially delivered to Pierre Moscovici, the French Minister for the Economy and Finance, on December 4, 2013. With its 15 proposals, it took centre stage at the Forum for a New Model of Economic Partnership between Africa and France, which was held on the same day in Paris. The forum was attended by several Heads of State and representatives of African Governments, as well as the President of the African Development Bank, Donald Kaberuka.

The report sets the tone in its introduction, as it “invites France to consider the scale of Africa’s economic and social development, which will make the continent one of the major focal points of globalization in the twenty-first century.”

The facts are clear: since the early 2000s, Africa has been a continent “with economic and social growth fully underway”. For over a decade, the continent has been sustained by an average annual growth rate of five per cent. Foreign direct investment (FDI) in Africa has increased from 1.2 per cent of global FDI in 2007 to 3.1 per cent in 2012. Furthermore “the continent still offers remarkable opportunities”. Its population will double between now and 2050, totalling 2 billion people, “which will make it one of the world’s biggest markets”.

France remains the largest investor in Africa, except in hydrocarbons. However, the country is losing sections of the market on a “continent subject to growing international competition.” There are nine proposals for “a shared economic agenda for the benefit of African and French growth”, and five more for “remobilizing France alongside an Africa on the move”. The working party, headed by Hubert Védrine, is recommending that French authorities double the amount of exports to Africa over the next five years. Significantly, this would enable France to create “at least 200,000 jobs”.

The African Development Bank has been a great inspiration in France’s new economic doctrine. The report underpins France’s new strategy in Africa. It also makes 32 references to AfDB analyses, studies, reports and proposals, as well as to the strategy and initiatives in support of the continent’s development. Furthermore, the report clearly shows that it is very much in France’s interest to support the work of the AfDB.

The third proposal in the report calls for “support for funding for infrastructure in Africa”. The same proposal also specifies that “at multilateral level, France should support the AfDB’s Africa50 Fund by sending French experts”. The Africa50 Fund seeks to create a leverage effect to mobilize private sources of funding. The aim is to accelerate the pace of infrastructure creation in Africa. As such, “with an initial investment of US $10 billion, the AfDB expects to raise US $100 billion”.

The fifth proposal concerns “contributing to strengthening the funding capacities of the African economy”. In this respect, the report emphasizes that “the ‘African Financing Partnership’, launched in 2008, is a collaborative co-financing platform. It brings together seven other institutions, grouped around the AfDB. Those seven are active in funding private sector projects in the fields of infrastructure, the extractive industries and financial institutions.” The report stresses that “it would be in France’s interest to give its full backing to this very sound endeavour”.

The AfDB is also mentioned in the sixth proposal, on increasing the intervention capacities of the European Union for the benefit of Africa. The report states that “the mission recommends continued support for international initiatives aimed at increasing transparency in the extractive industries (the EITI), and at improving African legal capacities with reference using the services of the African Legal Support Facility”.

The eleventh proposal, entitled “re-establishing the external French economic presence in Sub-Saharan Africa as soon as possible” also emphasizes the AfDB. It notes “when held on a regular basis, the Africa-France summits constitute key meetings in the relationship of France with Africa”. Additionally, the authors invite the French authorities to get involved in an event started by the Bank, the Africa CEO Forum. “Since 2012, an annual forum has been held in Geneva for directors of major African enterprises, organized by Jeune Afrique and The Africa Report, in partnership with the AfDB. Getting involved would create media interest in economic relations with France and strengthen business relations with the continent.”