THE AFRICA BAZAAR Staff Writer
THE AFRICA BAZAAR MAGAZINE
March 12, 2019
French President Emmanuel Macron arrived in Djibouti Monday evening for a visit, part of his official tour across three East African countries, which includes Ethiopia and Kenya, to strengthen diplomatic, economic and cultural ties as well as promote French Military, part of the efforts to counter balance Chinese growing influence in Africa.
This three-nation tour marks President Macron’s second official tour to Africa this year. The French President, who earlier this year in January made an official visit to Egypt and met with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, has make the African continent a key part of his foreign policy agenda. Last year, he visited 11 African countries, including former French colonies as well as Anglophone African countries, Burkina Faso, Chad, Cote d’Ivore, Ghana, Mauritiana, and Nigeria.
At home, he created a Presidential Council for Africa to advise him on African issues and help him prepare for visits to the continent and allocated E65 million through Agence Franceise de Developpementto promote digital startups in Africa
President Macron, who as a young man lived as an exchange-student in Lagos, Nigeria, has also made promoting African cultures part of his African strategic agenda. During his visit to Lagos last year, he was the first Head of state, globally, that publicly acknowledged the late African music icon Fela Kuti‘s musical contribution to the music and entertainment industry when he visited Fela Kuti’s entertainment center, New Afrika Shrine, in Ikeja where he attended a celebration of African Culture event and announced plans to host a major cultural event in France in 2020 titled Season of African Culture 2020, featuring music, cultural and fashion.
Later in November, he urged European countries and museums to return looted African artifacts back to African countries.
During his visit to Senegal last year, he pledged $248 million towards Global Partnership for Education.
Upon his arrival in Djibouti Monday, President Macron was met at the airport by Djibouti President Ismail Omar Guelleh. Before departing for Ethiopia Tuesday afternoon, the Presidents met for meetings in the morning, along with senior government officials on both sides as well as Djibouti civil society leaders.
On Tuesday afternoon, President Macron arrived in Ethiopia where he met with Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. Before their scheduled bilateral meetings later that day, they went on a tour of the historical Rock-Hewn Churches of Lalibela, which was carved out of rock centuries ago.
President Macron, who is traveling with his ministers and a group of French private sector leaders, is scheduled to discuss bilateral trade and political issues with Ethiopian Prime Minister Ahmed. While in Ethiopia, President Macron is also scheduled to meet with African Union Commission Chairman Moussa Faki Mahamat.
While in Ethiopia, French investors and business leaders are expected to sign several major deals with their Ethiopian counterparts, such as Ethiopian logistics firm, CLS Logistics.
In Kenya, the French president is scheduled to attend the One Planet Summit in Nairobi on Thursday along with other world leaders. He is also scheduled to meet with Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta at the State House to discuss bilateral trade and political issues. On the sideline of the One Planet Summit, he will meet with the newly inaugurated
President Felix Tshisekedi of Democratic Republic of Congo.
President Macron’s current visit to the African continent also coincides with U.S. senior government officials’ visits to Africa.
On Tuesday, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan began a two-nation tour in Africa, arriving first in South Africa and ending his tour in Angola, to promote trade and investment as well as advance peace and security.
Deputy Secretary Sullivan is scheduled to meet with South Africa government officials to discuss bilateral trade, regional and multilateral priorities. During his visits to Pretoria and Johannesburg, he will also meet with the private sector, and civil society leaders to get a better understanding of issues concerning South Africa’s land reform.
Deputy Secretary Sullivan is expected to tour the Zola Community Health Centre and meet with beneficiaries of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief Program.
In Angola, he will meet with President João Lourenço to discuss bilateral economic and security priorities global security issues, and co-chair the US-Angola Strategic Dialogue with Foreign Minister Manuel Augusto.
Deputy Secretary Sullivan will also meet with members of the private sector as well as the civil society.
Prior to Deputy Secretary Sullivan arrival in Africa this week, Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Tibor Nagy, who began his four-nation African tour arrived in Uganda early last week, and is scheduled to travel to Cameroon, DRC, and Rwanda, part of his his six-nations tour of EU and African nations to promote stronger business ties between the US and Africa, engage Africa’s youth, strengthen partnerships that aim for greater peace and security
While in Kampala, from March 7-8, Assistant Secretary Nagy will meet with senior Ugandan government officials. On March 9-11, he will travel to Kigali, Rwanda where he will meet with senior Rwandan officials to discuss ways to create greater opportunities for American investors with representatives from the American business community in Kigali. In the DRC, from March 13-15, he will engage NGOs, civil society and the new DRC government on a range of issues to include strengthening regional stability, promoting good governance, combating corruption, strengthening commercial ties.
In Cameroon, he will visit U.S.-owned firm and also meet with Cameroonian Young African Leaders Initiative participants.
Under Secretary for Political Affairs David M. Hale was in West Africa last month visiting Cote d’Ivoire, and Niger where he met with government officials, the private sector and YALI members.
The senior officials tours is part of the U.S. government’s efforts to strengthen and deepen partnerships with African nations as well as scale back Chinese growing influence on the continent.
Last week in the U.S., Congresswoman Karen D. Bass, the Chair of Congressional Black Caucus and also chair of the House Subcommitte on Africa, Global Health and Human Rights, convened a closed door meeting with the African diplomatic corps to discuss a common topics and working agenda, including African immigration issues, the new Continental Free Trade Agreement, issues around diaspora engagement in Africa, and strategies to improve the image of Africa in the U.S.