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The French policy in sub-Saharan Africa since 1960

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  1. Introduction
  2. Military assistance
    1. Military assistance agreements
    2. The political grip entailed
    3. The scandal of the Rwandan genocide
    4. The Ivorian failure: A turning point?
  3. Economic and financial cooperation
    1. Cooperation agreements and aid
    2. The 'zone Franc'
    3. The shift towards the European Union
  4. Cultural cooperation
    1. Francophonie
    2. Scientific cooperation
  5. Conclusion
  6. Bibliography

The French policy in Africa is frequently deemed neo-colonialist. France would enduringly attempt to keep its former colonies within its sphere of influence for economic and political reasons. Cases in point are the lyrics of the song ?Françafrique? by the Ivorian descent artist Tiken Jah Fakoly: ?Ils nous vendent des armes / Pendant que nous nous battons / Ils pillent nos richesses / Et se disent être surpris de voir l'Afrique toujours en guerre ? (They sell us weapons / While we are at war / They loot our wealth / And pretend to be surprised to see Africa always at war). The expression ?Françafrique? was used by Felix Houphouet-Boigny for the first time in 1955. It was meant to qualify the good French African relationship. Then, the set phrase became more negative: François-Xavier Verschave mentioned the ?Françafrique? as a scandal in 1999 . This latter policy means that French leaders aim at leading the former French African Empire through indirect means, generating military, economic and political dependencies. Paradoxically enough, the French cooperation policy has undoubtedly been one of the main engines of Africa's development. What has been the role of France in its former sub-Saharan African colonies since 1960? Can we draw a line between economic, cultural and military backing and imperialism?
The different types of cooperation appeared to me as an effective method of analysis. That is why in a first part, we will focus on military cooperation. In a second part, we will consider economic cooperation policies. In the last part, we will get a look at cultural cooperation.

[...] Conclusion France has played a key role in sub-Saharan Africa since the decolonization. To some extent, the French overseas empire has not disappeared right after decolonization. Indeed, since 1960, French leaders have designed policies aimed at maintaining stability and promoting development in Africa. Supporting any scheme able to maintain stability is an economically sensible thought since it enables French companies to do business in Africa. Moreover, many former settlers stayed in African countries after their independencies so as to set-up their own business. [...]


[...] In the latter years, French governments seem to step back from Africa and get more involved in multilateral operations. By way of symbol, a few days after Chirac's victory in 1995, Bob Denard was arrested by French troops sent to the Comoros while he was attempting to achieve his fourth coup in the islands. In 1995, the French army released its scheme to reduce in size its military bases in Africa. Finally, French army bases settled in Central African Republic have closed and French military staff permanently established in Chad has been divided by six in the ten past years. [...]


[...] The French subsidising policy also introduces a bias since most African countries rely on this aid to develop themselves. Thus, they can hardly avoid siding with France in its policy in Africa. The ?zone France? The common monetary zone allows many African countries to benefit from the French currency's stability, but is also ties them up with monetary policies upon which they have no influence. The zone Franc dates back to 1945 and the Bretton woods agreements. After the series of independences in 1960, all countries decided to keep the Franc CFA as their national currency. [...]

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