President Hollande: Good news for Africa?
As of 6 May, congratulations poured in from the four corners of the world; the newly elected French President, François Hollande, insisted that “austerity can no longer be the only option”, thus injecting “new hope” into France.
Although Hollande has little experience with Africa, I cannot help but feel that he will inject new hope into the entire African continent. He may first have to deal with unpleasant issues such as the Malian crisis, but this President has already shown that he is much more aware of the importance of Africa than President Sarkozy ever was. The latter did very little to improve Franco-African ties, despite his many promises. In one of his early speeches as a Presidential candidate, Hollande remarked on how many French companies are linked to the “African network” and noted the “strong economic mutual dependency” with France.
France’s dominant position as a trading partner in the Maghreb is of course unlikely to change, but sub-Saharan Africa should become a much more important market for France with a President who has the vision to see Africa’s fast-growing potential. France (like the United Kingdom) has local knowledge and business expertise that has been built up for more than a hundred years. It would be rather careless to ignore these firmly established commercial relationships at a time when Africa is ready to soar.