Over the past few years, France’s influence in Africa has been on the decline. This decline can be attributed to a number of factors, including a changing global geopolitical landscape and increasing competition from other countries (China, Russia, Turkey, USA)

Criticism of France’s Approach

France has faced criticism from many African countries over the years for its paternalistic approach to diplomacy. Many African leaders feel that France has not done enough to support their countries’ development and has instead focused primarily on maintaining its own interests. This has led to tensions between France and some of its former colonies, particularly in West Africa.

France’s relationship with its former colonies has also been complicated by its military interventions in the region. France has intervened militarily in a number of African countries, including Mali, Burkina Faso, and the Central African Republic, in an effort to combat terrorism and stabilize the region. However, these interventions have been criticized by some as being counterproductive and contributing to instability in the region.

If the recent string of coups in Francophone Africa are anything to go by, it is that they signal the rejection of France’s paternalistic policies. French officials are perceived in Africa as proud and conceited, and still acting as if they are in charge.

It is perhaps for this reason that, a month after the coup, France is persona non grata in Niger while Nigerien officials still talk to American officials, who have been cautious not to condemn the coup.

Despite his recent efforts to shed the mantle of paternalism and reframe the terms of France’s partnership with Africa countries, Macron has not managed to convince ordinary Africans that France can be a trustworthy partner. Vowing not to give in to Niger junta’s pressure for France to recall its ambassador, Macron’s insistence that “one shouldn’t give in to the narrative used by the coup leaders that consists of saying France has become our enemy” is unlikely to win over an African public tired of French domination. Having refused to recall its ambassador to Niger, France is now in a sticky situation.

There are now seven countries in the region under military rule some of whom are already seeking new development and military partners, not least with Russia and its infamous Wagner group.

The latest coup in Gabon further signals a growing confidence among military elites across the continent that they can and should intervene to forge the futures of their nations. This suggests that France must rethink its Africa policies so that they do more than protect French interests if it wants to remain involved.


Given the challenges that France is facing in maintaining its influence in Africa, here are some recommendations for the French government to consider:

  1. Diversify its approach to diplomacy: France should diversify its approach to diplomacy in Africa, moving beyond a purely security-focused approach to one that also addresses economic and social issues. This will require greater investment in development programs and initiatives that can help promote economic growth and stability in the region.
  2. Build stronger partnerships: France should build stronger partnerships with other countries in Africa, as well as with regional organizations such as the African Union. By working together, France can help address some of the challenges facing the continent, such as poverty, inequality, and insecurity.
  3. Address criticism of past actions: France should acknowledge and address criticism of its past actions in Africa. This includes acknowledging the negative impact that colonialism had on the continent and working to address the legacy of colonialism through initiatives such as debt relief and reparations.
  4. Increase engagement with civil society: France should increase its engagement with civil society organizations in Africa, including human rights groups and other advocacy organizations. This will help ensure that the voices of ordinary Africans are heard and that the government’s policies and initiatives are in line with the needs and aspirations of the people.
  5. Promote regional integration: France should promote regional integration in Africa, including initiatives that can help reduce trade barriers and promote cross-border investment. This will help promote economic growth and stability in the region, and could help reduce some of the security challenges that France and other countries are facing.

By taking these steps, France can help maintain its influence in Africa and build stronger partnerships with countries and organizations across the continent. While there are no easy solutions to the challenges facing France in Africa, these recommendations provide a starting point for the government to begin to address the complex issues at play.

As Africa continues to develop and grow, it is likely that France’s influence in the region will continue to decline. However, this does not necessarily mean that France will become irrelevant in Africa. Rather, it will need to adapt to the changing landscape and find new ways to engage with the continent in order to maintain its influence in the region.

Add new comment