French Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs “Les Echos” interviewed Henri de Raincourt, Minister responsible for Cooperation, on EU-Africa relations and the French stance on it on Monday:
Q. – What do you expect from the EU-Africa summit?
THE MINISTER – It must add further substance to the content of the partnership between Europe and Africa established at the preceding summit, in Lisbon, in 2007. The Heads of State and Government will, inter alia, be discussing growth. It’s one of the keys to successfully ensuring Africa’s development. It’s also what will give a firm foundation to the partnership between the two continents. The macroeconomic framework is good. Africa has some real assets on the growth front. First of all its demography: for the next 20 years, the working-age population will be far larger than the dependent population. Secondly, urbanization; Africa will soon have almost as many people living in towns as in rural areas. All this adds another dimension to the continent’s growth possibilities and provides a historic opportunity in the partnership between Europe and Africa. European countries have the opportunity to make things move. Admittedly, there are challenges to take up – infrastructure needs and creation of regional markets – but they are meetable.
Q. – Is Africa on the path to Chinese-style development?
THE MINISTER – We have to be prudent when making comparisons and not become prisoners of an image like that one. Africa is making headway but still has obstacles in front of it. And some risks must not be underestimated – inequalities, ecological issues, public-health risks and migratory pressures.
Q. – Brussels is insisting on recourse to the private sector. Some people are afraid of the market having to resolve all the problems…
THE MINISTER – I haven’t got any fears on that score. Simply, the government can’t, on its own, provide Africa with the investment financing it needs. We have to rely on public-private partnerships, as Nicolas Sarkozy said in his Cape Town speech in 2008. Even if global official development assistance isn’t enough to address all the challenges, France has shown the example, particularly with the Head of State’s commitment to mobilize €10 billion over five years for growth and jobs in Africa.
Q. – Regarding ODA, will France achieve the objective of 0.5% of GDP in 2010?
THE MINISTER – It will be around €10 billion and our commitments will be honoured. This is one of our priorities and we don’t intend lowering our guard on this.
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