Two-Day Africa-France Business Relations Summit Begins, Food Security, Fighting Poverty Will Be Discussed

The 25th Africa-France Summit, a two-day gathering “aimed at developing better business relations between” the regions, began Monday in the French city of Nice, All Headline News reports. According to the news service, 38 African leaders and 250 business executives have gathered for the summit, which is expected to feature discussions on “the problems of climate change, piracy, terrorism” as well as “the demand of African countries’ for a bigger say in the U.N. Security Council and the G20 forum” (Gagelonia, 6/1).

According to Reuters, a communique from the summit said that France will “set up a $120 million fund to help Africa’s agriculture industry and the investment could end up totalling $300 million.” The communique said the fund would aim to aid African farming projects (6/1).

In addition to food security, fighting poverty will also be discussed during the meeting, Xinhua reports, noting that U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, as well as representatives from the EU, U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), African Union Commission, World Bank and the International Organization of the Francophonie are expected to attend the meeting, according to the news service (5/29).

“The summit is viewed by many as an attempt by the [French government] to boost its dwindling influence in the region in the face of stiff competition from China, India and other emerging economic superpowers,” France24 writes. “China is now Africa’s biggest trading partner and has invested billions over the past decade to tap into the continent’s raw materials to fuel its own fast-growing economy.”

The piece reflects on French President Nicolas Sarkzoy’s relationships with several African leaders as well as Sarkozy’s aim “to break with the past and end what he described as the paternalistic relationship between France and its former colonies, a relationship based on privileges and hand-outs popularly referred to as ‘Francafrique'” (Guguen, 5/31).

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