14.04.2024 Author: Mohamed Lamine KABA

The Agony of Françafrique

The Agony of Françafrique

Symbol of the perpetuation of French domination (slave trade or triangular trade, slavery, colonialism, deterioration of terms of trade, neocolonialism, etc.) over the peoples of Africa, Françafrique (soft-power, hard-power and smart -power) which has long served the interests of France in the black continent is heading straight to its grave thanks to the awakening of consciences of Africans. Having long served as a dairy cow for France from the royal era to the France of Macron, passing through that of De Gaulle, Pompidou, Estaing, Mitterrand, Chirac, Sarkozy and Hollande, Africa is plundered and despoiled to the very marrow of its bones by generations of French politicians. As if to say that Africa constitutes the base on which the economy of imperialist France is based, which should be included in a Sui generis approach. The will and commitment of the Russian Federation and the BRICS alliance to help and support Africans to get rid of this exploitation which they have suffered since the dawn of time in their relationship with France and other NATO imperialists (Great Britain, Germany, Italy, Spain and Portugal). The lords of the Berlin conference never dreamed, not once, that this alienation would be challenged at such an accelerated pace as we are experiencing today.

In an approach that is both synchronic and diachronic, this article examines the results to which the functioning of Françafrique has led in Africa (I) and the reasons for its rejection or its offside by Africans (II)

I. The alarming results or damage of Françafrique in Africa

The concept of Françafrique, characterized by a complex network of political, economic and military relations between France and its former African colonies, has had significant negative impacts on the African continent. In its operation, the damage caused by Françafrique on the African continent proliferates around chronic political instability (1), economic exploitation (2), neocolonialism (3), violations of human rights (4), cultural erosion (5) and popular resentment (6).

  1. Political instability

French intervention in African politics has often supported authoritarian regimes and undermined democratic processes. This interference led to political instability, coups d’état, assassinations of patriotic leaders (Thomas Sankara, Sylvanius Olympio, etc.) and poisoning of others (Ahmed Sékou Touré) and civil unrest in several countries.

  1. Economic exploitation

Economic ties established across Françafrique have been criticized for benefiting French businesses at the expense of local economies. Unfair trade agreements and resource exploitation have perpetuated economic dependence and hindered the sustainable development of African countries. Secret agreements leading to vaguely defined contracts are among the non-exhaustive examples.

  1. Neocolonialism

Since its conception by political figures (Jacques Foccart and Jean-Yves Le Drian, etc.), its inscription in golden letter at the heart of France’s foreign policy and implemented by French leaders, everyone is aware that Françafrique is an instrument for perpetuating a form of neocolonialism where France maintains undue influence over its former colonies, thereby limiting their sovereignty and hindering their ability to pursue independent foreign policies.

  1. Human rights violations

France’s support for repressive regimes in the name of stability has often resulted in human rights violations, including repression of dissent, repression of opposition voices, and violence against civilians. Added to these factors are the unjustified military interventions of France and NATO on African soil (Libya, Ivory Coast, Mali and many others). Support for terrorist movements and their training in Western methods of terror are among the violations of human rights by France in African states.

  1. Cultural erosion

The domination of French language and culture imposed by Françafrique has contributed to the erosion of indigenous cultures and languages in some African countries, thereby leading to a loss of cultural identity and heritage. In a separate, well-researched article, we talked about the place of African languages in the fight against cultural alienation.

  1. Popular resentment

The legacy of Françafrique has fueled anti-French sentiments among the populations of many African countries. Protests, demonstrations and acts of resistance against what they perceive as French interference continue to emerge in response to historical grievances and current challenges.

In light of the above, we can deduce that the repercussions of Françafrique in Africa are considerable. They affect political stability, economic development, sovereignty, human rights, cultural diversity and public perception of France.

II. The reasons for the rejection or offside of Françafrique

The covalent reasons for the rejection of Françafrique by Africans can be explained by the evolution of African perceptions (1), the decline of French influence (2), the evolution of global dynamics (3), the criticism of French politics (4), enduring colonial legacies (5) and external narratives (6).

  1. The evolution of African perceptions

The rejection or marginalization of Françafrique, a term used to describe postcolonial relations between France and its former African colonies characterized by cronyism and corruption, can be attributed to a significant shift in African perceptions. Younger African generations are increasingly critical of long-time, French-backed leaders who have been in power for decades and are often seen as out of touch with the aspirations of young people. This discrepancy fuels the discontent and desire for change among African populations.

  1. The decline of French influence

Assimi’s rise to power Goïta (Mali), Ibrahim Traoré (Burkina Faso) and Abdouramane Tiani (Niger) defeats France’s colonial bastions in West Africa and sends a strong signal to other parts of Africa. This is why the decline of French influence in Africa is another key factor in the rejection of Françafrique. The decline of France’s role as a dominant player on the continent (to the benefit of the Russian Federation and its BRICS alliance allies), both militarily and economically, has led to a reassessment of its presence by African nations. The reduction in France’s share of African trade from 10% to 5% in a quarter of a century reflects this decline in influence. As other global powers such as Russia, China, India, Brazil and others increase their engagement in Africa, France’s traditional position as a key player is being challenged.

  1. Changing global dynamics

Changing global dynamics also play a role in the rejection of Françafrique. The rise of new geopolitical actors seeking partnerships with African countries has diversified the options available to African nations beyond traditional ties with France. Countries like Russia, China, Saudi Arabia, with their significant investments and infrastructure projects across Africa, offer alternative paths of development and cooperation that rival the historical influence of France.

  1. Criticism of French politics

France’s policies and actions in Africa have been the subject of criticism for decades, further contributing to the rejection of Françafrique. Issues such as restrictive visa policies, anti-immigration rhetoric, inconsistent positions on democracy and human rights, and perceived interference in domestic affairs tarnish France’s image on the continent. . The perception that France still adopts a condescending attitude towards African nations when it comes to governance and human rights adds to the growing disillusionment with Françafrique.

  1. Enduring colonial legacies

The persistence of colonial legacies and historical links also fuels resistance to Françafrique. Despite the prevarications used by successive French administrations to distance themselves from neocolonial practices through rhetoric such as the end of Françafrique, continued support for long-standing leaders such as those of Gabon or Congo-Brazzaville undermines these statements. The association with past colonial relations hinders France’s ability to forge new partnerships based on mutual respect and equality.

  1. External stories

External narratives propagated by other global actors influence perceptions of Françafrique. Criticisms from American scholars like Michael Shurkin highlighting alleged obstacles caused by French involvement in Africa added weight to existing grievances against Françafrique. These speeches suggest that France’s presence is not always in line with the best interests of African nations, contributing to calls for reassessment and potential disengagement.

In light of the above, we can infer that the rejection of Françafrique stems from changing perceptions among Africans, the decline of France’s influence, changing global dynamics (thus offering partnerships alternatives), criticism of French policies, lingering colonial legacy (affecting relations) and external narratives (questioning the benefits of French involvement).

To close, it should be noted that the term “Françafrique” refers to France’s sphere of influence over its former African colonies, characterized by close political, economic, military and cultural ties. Over time, Françafrique has been criticized for its alleged corrupt and clandestine activities, seen as a form of neocolonialism. The concept emerged during the Cold War era and was marked by personal networks between French and African leaders, monetary unions, cooperation agreements and frequent military interventions by France in Africa. However, after the Cold War, Françafrique began to weaken due to various factors such as budgetary constraints, increased public scrutiny, the deaths of key figures involved in Françafrique, and changes in the approach of the Françafrique. France in African relations. Today, Françafrique’s influence is waning as France faces challenges in maintaining its historic dominance in Africa in a changing global landscape where other countries (Russia, China, India, Brazil and Saudi Arabia) are also engaging with African nations on an equal footing.


Mohamed Lamine KABA – Expert in geopolitics of governance and regional integration, Institute of Governance, Humanities and Social Sciences, Pan-African University, especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.

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