‘Thank you, dear Emmanuel’ – France’s Macron champions ‘new deal’ for post-pandemic Africa

France’s President Emmanuel Macron welcomes President Cyril Ramaphosa upon his arrival for a dinner at the Elysee Presidential Palace in Paris, on 17 May. (Photo: Ludovic Marin/AFP) African leaders met representatives of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank in Paris this week.France’s president has proposed a credit facility through the IMF to assist…


France's President Emmanuel Macron welcomes President Cyril Ramaphosa upon his arrival for a dinner at the Elysee Presidential Palace in Paris, on 17 May. (Photo: Ludovic Marin/AFP)

France’s President Emmanuel Macron welcomes President Cyril Ramaphosa upon his arrival for a dinner at the Elysee Presidential Palace in Paris, on 17 May. (Photo: Ludovic Marin/AFP)

  • African leaders met representatives of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank in Paris this week.
  • France’s president has proposed a credit facility through the IMF to assist African countries recover from the devastation of Covid-19.
  • It is estimated that African countries will need well over R3 trillion to make up for the loss of economic growth since the start of the pandemic.

French President Emmanuel Macron touted a “new deal” for Africa at a Paris summit attended by about 30 African heads of state.

President Cyril Ramaphosa attended the Tuesday summit, along with leaders from Nigeria, Angola, Senegal and others. 

“The new deal we’re launching today, for Africa and through Africa, will, I think, be the first of its kind,” said Macron.

The Summit on the Financing of African Economies brought together African leaders and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank to discuss the continent’s economic recovery in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Macron is proposing $650 billion (estimated R9.1 trillion) in Special Drawing Rights through the IMF, a credit line that would go toward post-pandemic recovery, including boosting vaccine manufacture. The deal still needs the buy-in of wealthy donor countries to go ahead.

China, Europe and the US would all be readapting to a post-pandemic global economy and Africa needs the same tools to rebuild after Covid-19, the French president said. The leaders also raised questions on how to structure debt packages more favourably to African states.

“There was clear consensus around the table that we need to rethink our mechanisms, redesign our mechanisms and let the Africans speak for themselves and find mechanisms that are more adaptive macroeconomic realities and to do on the African continent what we ourselves do,” Macron said in a press conference on Tuesday evening.

During the press conference, President Macky Sall of Senegal and President Felix Tshisekedi of the Democratic Republic of Congo, thanked Macron several times during the live press briefing, cordially referring to the French leader by his first name, “Dear Emmanuel”.

Throughout his presidency, Macron has played a greater role in securing the influence of the former colonial power in Africa. On Monday, he also hosted a summit to discuss the growth of post-revolution Sudan.

‘Fair shot’

The IMF estimates that Africa will need US$285 billion (R3.99 trillion) to plug the economic hole left by pandemic-era shrinkage. To get African countries back on the growth path toward catching up with wealthy countries, the continent would need twice as much.

“The aspirations for Africa are a fair shot – a vaccine shot in the arm for everyone, everywhere and a shot at revitalising the economy,” said Kristalina Goergieva, the IMF’s managing director.

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Along with economic recovery, the summit also focused on boosting access to the Covid-19 vaccine so that 40 percent of Africans are inoculated by 2021. The summit championed lifting intellectual property rights so that African states can begin manufacturing their own doses. Macron also promised to mobilise funds for the Covax initiative, the vaccine acquisition alliance which most African countries are reliant on.

“As an African and as president of the DRC, I admit there isn’t a lot of mobilisation among our own populations due to a few concerns that the vaccine is coming from elsewhere, and this is exactly why we must try to manufacture the vaccines in Africa itself. I think that will have a significant impact on the attitudes of populations,” said Tshisekedi.

After the Tuesday meeting, leaders of the G7, G20 and the African Union will continue to meet to iron out the details of the requested funding.

Ahead of the summit, Ramaphosa also held bilateral discussions with Rwandan President Paul Kagame, and met with Senegal’s Sall.

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