France took the bold step of naming yet an other international business initiative with an English name: AfricaFrance.
It doesn’t mean France is about to ditch the Francophonie, but it could mean that it takes a pragmatic approach to English language being the language for business. It could also indicate that France business community, represented by MEDEF International, will be more proactive to invest beyond Françafrique in English-speaking African countries currently driving growth in Africa. The project takes the form of a foundation, AfricaFrance, headed by Lionel ZINSOU and endorsed by the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Fernand Braudel, in his book a Grammar of Civilizations, mentioned the “linguistic joke played on Black Africa by the colonization: instead of gaining one international common language, it got two”. The map below, prepared using NamSor technology from a large database of company directors in Africa, shows that the linguistic divide is also very current in business and Foreign Direct Investments (FDI).
A challenge for the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs will be to promote this new brand on traditional and social media, as currently searching for AfricaFrance on Google returns totally orthogonal results, compared to the message the Quai d’Orsay would like to convey.
AfricaFrance was launched this morning very much as a ‘top-down’ approach, when the United-States and the United-Kingdom have built successful bottom-up approaches in recent years, directed towards the local elites in Africa or the global African Diasporas.
Will this particular initiative encounter a more durable success than last year event ‘African Forum – 100 innovations for sustainable development‘, which failed to deliver practical results? How will AfricaFrance maintain and gain traction once the African leaders are back in their home country?
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