In an exclusive interview Wednesday with RFI and its partner television station France 24 from the Côte d’Ivoire, President Emmanuel Macron underlined his commitment to rooting out the scourge of human trafficking in Africa.
The president’s comments follow earlier comments made Tuesday in a keynote speech at Ouagadougou University where he recognized the “indisputable crimes” of European colonialism and vowed to fight people smuggling from sub-Saharan Africa.
In the RFI/France 24 interview he said France is “prepared take police, military action against human traffickers”.
He also refuted claims by certain French politicians that he had behaved arrogantly on his trip, particularly with President Roch Marc Christian Kaboré, the president of Burkina Faso.
Macron was speaking in Abidjan, the economic capital of Ivory Coast, where more than 80 African and European leaders gathered for the EU-AU summit focused on promoting jobs and stability for Africa’s exploding population, with some calling for a new “Marshall Plan.”
He pointed out, however, that the Africa of today is not the same continent that many of its current leaders grew up in. He said it is a ‘young’ continent looking for new solutions to old problems.
One of the implications of this is that Paris should not be offering advice on what systems of governance work in what countries.
The two-day summit in Abidjan opened as the EU struggles with the twin shocks of migration and terrorist attacks.
Preisdent Macron admitted that despite the best efforts of France and other countries, they still haven’t managed to erradicate terrorist movements, especially in the Sahel region.
The summit also comes as China, India, Japan, the Gulf Arab states and others also compete for influence on a continent where the 28-nation EU remains as a whole the biggest economic and political player.
Millions of Africans on the move
European Parliament President Antonio Tajani told parliamentarians from both continents before the summit that there was little time to find ways to meet the needs of an African population set to more than double by 2050 to around 2.4 billion people.
“Africa will have to create millions of jobs to accommodate the new arrivals in the job market,” Tajani said in Abidjan.
Millions of Africans have already been on the move within the continent to seek jobs or flee conflict but also across the Mediterranean, mainly via Libya to Italy.
The EU this year began to reduce the flow through cooperation with the Libyan authorities following a more comprehensive deal with Turkey, which has sharply cut the flow of those fleeing the Middle East to Greece.
African ‘Marshall Plan’
More that 1.5 million people from the Middle East and Africa have entered Europe in the last two years and EU officials fear new and even greater influxes in the future.
EU officials said the migrant influx, which sparked political divisions across the EU, as well as frequent Islamist attacks in Europe have been a wake-up call to tackle the root causes of why people leave their homes.
The EU has already set up multi-billion euro funds to promote Africa’s economic development while deepening counter-terrorism cooperation with African countries where Islamist militant groups are spreading.
The multi-billion dollar Marshall Plan launched by the United States after World War II is widely credited for helping Europe achieve its current prosperity and stability. The full inteview is below: