Once France was one of “the great powers”, dominating Europe and parts of the world in terms of culture and economy. The country’s demise started after the Second World War, though it still played a key role in the creation of the European Union and the euro, which was to prevent Germany from subjugating the rest of the continent.However, this strategy has failed and Berlin has become Europe’s capital, with France’s importance ever dwindling. France’s population is slowly being substituted for by people from Africa. Renaud Camus calls it the “grand replacement”. Paris, once a European, then a global, is slowly turning into an African metropolis. If French elites, whose influence in Europe is fading, want to remain a world power, they can only opt for Africa. Qaddafi, the king of the kings, became a threat to France’s interests on the continent. It was not the Americans that pushed for Qaddafi’s replacement but the French elites.
Although the days of colonialism officially came to an end in the 1960s, Paris has not given up its position of a great power on the Black Continent.
France controls most of the countries in West and sub-Saharan Africa politically, economically and through a strong military presence.
Gendarme without backbone
France’s current zone of influence in Africa is the result of the policies of President Charles de Gaulle, who was unable to come to terms with his defeats in Indochina (1954) and Algeria (1962) and therefore sought to achieve the dominance of France in his former colonies. After de Gaulle, however, other presidents did not refrain from using military force and violence in Africa to defend their interests, on the pretext of protecting human rights and democracy. The French often achieved the opposite because they made the same mistakes in their military actions as Americans made elsewhere in the world: they supported people who later became their enemies or violated human rights. For example, it was the regime of Juvenal Habyariman in Rwanda that was supported by Paris: the French supplied Hutu combat groups with weapons, thus contributing to the Tutsi massacre. Hollande, who in Paris and Europe was perceived as a weakling, showed the face of a warrior and sent heavy units and fighter planes to Mali in 2013. This would not have been necessary if French President Sarkozy and the USA had not overthrown Qaddafi. It was Sarkozy that initiated the NATO led airstrikes against Libya. The removal of Colonel Qaddafi gave rise to the creation of the Caliphate with the help of Tuaregs in the north of Niger and Mali. After a few years since the start of the mission in Mali one wonders: has it made Europe safer? Has the flow of migrants been stopped through Sahel countries? Are the Jihadists of African descent a lesser threat in Europe?
The cost of the military action in Mali in 2013 amounted to 650 million euros. Operation Barkhane (as it is called) continues to this day and costs the French budget €500 million per year. Of course, democracy in Mali is a top priority for most Europeans, right?
A total of 9,000 French soldiers are currently stationed in Chad, Niger, Mali, Burkina Faso, Senegal, Gabon, the Central African Republic and Djibouti. The growing military presence is supposed to support the fight against terrorism and crime: in fact, it is about the French elites extending their power to the south, reaching for cheap raw materials and outlet markets.
Common currency – Central African Republic sponsored by Mario Draghi
To preserve power, a sovereign needs not only to have an army but even more so issue a currency. Paris knows about this and uses a currency of its own to preserve its colonial power. It is beneficial for the government and large corporations that it represents: uranium from Niger and Gabon, cocoa from Ivory Coast, peanuts from Senegal, commercial orders for French companies in many different countries of West and Central Africa – some 1,000 French companies operating in francophone Africa generate annual profits of around €52 billion.1) Such profits would not be possible without the CFA franc. The CFA franc is the official currency in 14 African countries with a total population of 140 million.2)
Its history can be traced back to the Bretton Woods conference after the Second World War:3)as in all countries participating in the Bretton Woods system, there was considerable inflation in France. The introduction of a quasi-parallel currency should devalue the real franc and lower inflation in the African countries because the Africans cannot print money at will. Banque de France thus guaranteed the convertibility of the CFA franc into the real French franc for many decades and ensured its devaluation and a fixed exchange rate.
Since the introduction of the euro, the CFA franc has been linked to the common European zone. Still, it is the French treasury that is responsible for its stability and so it is the French tax payers who are held liable.
The monetary union thus transferred the cost of the CFA zone to the French taxpayer. Is it clear to an average French taxpayer that he is not only confronted with the cost of mass-migration and that, apart from the billions in development aid, which is usually wasted anyway, part of his tax goes to Africa? Part of it? Well, how much is that? Those responsible are happy to keep quiet about this. Try to get the information out, it’s like France’s state secret. The Maastricht Treaty provides proof of this: it says nothing about the CFA. Perhaps the French signed the treaty because the financial burden was too heavy for them?
Carrot for African elites, French conglomerates and … migrants
Let us take just one country as an example: Senegal, a popular destination for French presidents. Rolf Heimer wrote:”The devaluation (1994) of the CFA had two aspects: on the one hand, exports of its most important product, peanuts, actually rose in 1994/5, and thus the income of the plantation owners who belonged to the elite; on the other hand, the majority of the population continued to be impoverished, as the higher prices for the fertilizers and pesticides imported from abroad meant much lower income for most small farmers.4) While devaluation against the franc or the euro makes imports from Europe more expensive, linking the CFA franc to the strong euro reduces the competitiveness of African CFA countries. It favours imports from countries with weaker currencies (e. g. China, Nigeria, India and Thailand). In addition, most of Africa’s exports are calculated in dollars, meaning that the loss is double, since any appreciation of the euro against the dollar worsens the total value of exports. It was particularly clear in the years 2000-2010: the appreciation of the euro put the CFA countries at a disadvantage. The African countries do not form an optimal currency area. It means that the group of countries can be hit by crises that are economically too much asymmetric: one of them can be worse off while others can be booming. There is no coordinated fiscal policyensuring that capital is transferred from states that are doing well to those that are doing poorly. For example, rises in oil prices can cause immense damage to employment and production capacity in one country, as their central banks cannot cushion the negative effects of changes in nominal exchange rates, while another country may profit from the phenomenon. Even though the CFA guarantees its countries lower inflation and fiscal discipline imposed by the ECB, the question here is whether the cost of the single currency will not outweigh expected profits.
Who profits from it? It is certainly Africa’s upper classes and migrants. Thanks to CFA, the former can buy luxury goods at low prices in Europe and transfer French lifestyle to Africa, while the latter can rely on their homes in Ouagadougou or Dakar to retain their value.
Macron – the man who will change everything?
You must be joking. During his February visit to the former French colony of Algeria, he said: “Colonization is part of French history. It is a crime against humanity, a real barbarity. You have to face that part of the past and apologize for what has been done.” 5) From a historical perspective it was a strange remark because the French conquered Algeria while it was under the Ottoman rule to end Berber slave raids and piracy. Politically, his apologies make sense in that to rule the African continent, the Paris elites should win back the hearts and minds of the black “French”peasants.
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Featured image of Clinton, Sarkozy courtesy of AP/Christophe Ena