25th Africa-France Summit calls for greater international role for Africa

25th Africa-France Summit calls for greater international role for Africa

Wednesday, 02 June, 2010

The 25th Africa-France Summit took place in Nice, France, on 31 May and 1 June 2010. Among the themes addressed was the need for a greater role for Africa in international governance. Debates also focused on issues concerning the reinforcement of peace and security in Africa and the challenge of climate change and sustainable development.

The 25th Africa-France Summit brought together heads of state and/or delegations from nearly all 53 African states, as well as representatives of the European Union (EU), the African Union (AU), the Food and Agricultural Organisation and the World Bank. In addition, for the first time since its inception in 1973, the event also included over 200 representatives from the business sector and cultural and social organisations.

Closing the summit, the French President, Nicolas Sarkozy called for an open and transparent relationship (décomplexé), looking towards the future. He renewed his commitment to push for a greater role for Africa in international fora during France’s Presidency of the G8 and G20, and undertook to support the call for a permanent seat for Africa on the UN Security Council.

A voice for Africa

“I am absolutely convinced that it is no longer possible to evoke the big questions of the world without the presence of Africa,” he stated. “The foundation of my conviction is the clear awareness that our destinies are closely interlinked. The failure of Africa would be a disaster for Europe,” he conceded, adding “the success of Africa will help build growth, peace and stability in Europe.”

South African President, Jacob Zuma confirmed that the summit had been very useful. “Times have changed,” he said. “Institutions dating from 1940 can no longer manage world affairs.” He also announced that the AU’s forthcoming summit would debate Africa’s strategy on UN reform.

Cameroon President, Paul Biya, also welcomed the debate on Africa’s place in world governance. “Africa cannot just seek to obtain aid. It must make its contribution to the resolution of the world’s problems.”

Increasing peace and security

Promising to work with African countries to fight terrorism, piracy and drugs trafficking, President Sarkozy announced that during 2010-2012, France will allocate €300 million to train 12 000 African soldiers for the peacekeeping forces.

Climate change and sustainable development

Discussions on climate change and sustainable development, focused on work within the framework of the UN Convention on Climate Change (UNCCC). At the UNCCC conference in Copenhagen, the EU, US and other developed powers promised to channel $10 billion a year in so-called ‘fast-start’ financing from 2010-2012, and $100 billion a year by 2020, to help poorer nations deal with the effects of climate change, such as floods and droughts, and shift to a low-carbon economy.

In this context, President Sarkozy expressed disappointment that only 29 of the 53 African states ratified Copenhagen, especially since the majority of financing agreed is destined for Africa.

Good for business

Economic themes were prominent in several workshops which included finance ministers and representatives from the business world. Issues covered reinforcing legal frameworks to favour business ventures, facilitating the access of business enterprises to finances, and the role of professional training.

At the conclusion of the event, a Professional Charter for Investors in Africa was adopted by participants.

Supporting the Africa-EU Partnership

Attending the summit, European Commissioner for Development Andris Piebalgs noted that: "The Africa-France summit is a valuable opportunity to discuss with our African partners our common challenges and define common solutions, in the framework of the broader Africa-EU Strategic Partnership. The Commission strongly calls for a bigger role and representation of Africa on the global scene. This would help all of us to better address the challenges of governance, peace and security, and climate change. In addition, we have to ensure a better integration of the private sector whose contribution is crucial."

Commissioner Piebalgs also held bilateral meetings with some African heads of state, and the chairman of the AU in preparation for the upcoming Africa-EU summit in November 2010.