In 2020-2023, events that occurred in the Central African Republic, Mali, Burkina Faso, Gabon, and Niger indicate that Paris is losing its influence in Africa. Many experts believe that the main reasons for this were Africans’ awareness of the arrogant attitude of the French towards former colonies, interference in the internal affairs of states, the promotion of exclusively their economic interests to the detriment of the inhabitants of the continent, as well as an unjustified military presence.

The colonial past and attempts to bring the “right” leaders to power

Sudanese politician Kamal Karrar said in August 2023: “The neo-colonialist policies of France, which seeks to maintain its influence in West Africa, led to a military coup in Niamey. The events that took place in Niger are quite natural, since the intervention of the French in political life led to the power of President Mohamed Bazoum, who was removed by the military.
A similar conclusion was made in August 2023 by Syrian expert on geopolitics and international relations Seif Ed-Din Kadash regarding the coup in Gabon. “The dependence of ousted Gabonese President Ali Bongo on France and Western interests prompted the country’s military to remove him from power, following the example of other African states,” Kadache said.
At the same time, Tunisian politician Abdelaziz Messaoudi also said that the series of military coups that have occurred over the past few years in Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso is a general trend towards liberation from Western dependence, characteristic of African states.

Today, 14 African countries, through a series of bilateral agreements, are required to deposit up to 85% of their gold and foreign exchange reserves with the French central bank under the control of the French finance minister. The Bank of France allows them to use only 15% of the funds per year. If they need more, they are forced to borrow additional money from their own 65% from the French Treasury at commercial rates. To this day, 14 African countries must pay colonial debt to France. African leaders who refuse die, face sanctions or become victims of a coup. Those who comply are supported and rewarded by Paris in the form of a luxurious lifestyle while their people live in extreme poverty and despair. This vicious system is sometimes condemned even by the European Union, but the French authorities are not ready to abandon colonial relations, which annually bring about $500 billion into the treasury.

Unresolved economic problems

Financial debt plunges Africa into an abyss of poverty, provoking popular revolt and fueling anti-French sentiment in French-speaking Africa. French political scientist and expert on Africa Christian Gambotti wrote on the pages of Afrikipresse in February 2023 that France, like other Western countries, does not offer any solution to the economic problems of Africans, except for the endless restructuring of their debts and increasing their repayment terms, subject to a structural transformation of the economy. Therefore, it is not surprising that African states are looking towards BRICS, which offers a new solution.

Total control of natural resources

For France, the Sahel countries are primarily uranium mines. 75% of electricity in France is generated by nuclear power plants. The large state-owned company AREVA controls all of these mines. France has the first right to purchase any natural resources discovered on the lands of its former colonies. And only after France says, “I’m not interested,” are African countries allowed to look for other partners. When concluding government contracts, French companies should be considered first, and only then can African countries look for other partners. It does not matter whether African countries can get better value for money elsewhere. As a consequence, in many former French colonies all the countries’ major economic assets are in the hands of French expatriates. For example, in Côte d’Ivoire, French companies own and control all major public utilities – water, electricity, telephones, transport, ports and large banks. The same is true in trade, construction and agriculture.

Military presence

In 2017-2022, Paris spent 4.1 billion euros on operation BARKHANE in Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso. While declaring their intentions to fight extremists, the French actually pursued the task of protecting their economic interests and control over natural resources. An additional strategy was to prevent migration from the Sahel to EU countries. Even French senators Bruno Retayo (chairman of the Republicans faction) and Christian Cambon (chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defense and Armed Forces) in August 2023 officially recognized the failure of Paris’s military campaign in West Africa.


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