Saturday, May 06, 2017

The French never left

France's presence in Africa is focused largely on its former colonies. During painful process of decolonization in the 1960s and 1970s, "La Grande Nation" never lost sight of its own interests. Use of the French language in the former French territories remains obligatory. There are still two currency unions in existence - the West African CFA franc and the Central African CFA franc - to which a total of 15 African states belong. Currency reserves are held in France's central bank. It is open to dispute whether the CFA offer greater advantages to France or the African states.

French corporations such as the construction company Bolloré, the oil giant Total and the telecoms group Orange maintain a massive presence in the ex-colonies. French companies import commodities from many West and Central African countries, such as uranium ore from Niger and Gabon or cocoa from Ivory Coast. About 9,000 French soldiers are stationed in those countries. Their mandate is to fight terrorists and train African troops.

"We are still closely associated with former colonial power. Let's cut the umbilical cord," declared President Alpha Conde of Guinea-Conakry, who curerntly holds the presidency of the 55-nation African Union. But two weeks later, Condé visited Paris and thanked President Hollande for doing so much for Africa.

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