Jean-Yves Ollivier: a new France-Africa relation is possible
Filed Under: Politics, World | Posted: 01/02/2013 at 4:57AM
Comments | Region: France
For decades the relations between France and its former African colonies have been caracterized by the so-called "Francafrique" system, a mix of post-colonial paternalism and corruption. According to French businessman Jean-Yves Ollivier, "there is more between France and Africa than the Francafrique".
Jean-Yves Ollivier, who has spent most of his career in Africa and has been an intermediary in many peace negotiations across the continent, is not kind with the Francafrique system:
Franceafrique relations have been maintained by a handful of individuals who illegitimately claim to speak in the name of France (when they mostly only represent themselves), and interact with African leaders to short-circuit traditional state to state relations…They usually act according to personal monetary objectives entirely unrelated to the benefit of either France or Africa.
Based on his professional and personal experience, Jean-Yves Ollivier believes that France shall not forget the "peculiarities of building relations with Africa" with such key ingredients as personal trust, not being focused on offical agendas and protocols.
However, according to the businessman, France will be able to build a new relation with Africa only as long as it puts aside the corrupted fews who claim they speak on the country’s behalf when they’re really trying to make money for temselves.
Jean-Yves Ollivier who has built along the years personal relations with many African heads of State and former heads of State such as Nelson Mandela, adds that France needs Africa more than Africa needs France.
If France wants to have a future in Africa, we must reject the ‘brokers’ who ruin the image of our country by illegitimately claiming to represent us. We must also open up to regions of Africa beyond France’s traditional sphere of influence–where it is easier, for the French, to establish healthier, fresh relations. It is precisely what I have chosen to do by focusing my activities in Africa on countries which were never French colonies. As a French businessman, I find professional relations are much easier there.