A tour of Central Africa by French President Emmanuel Macron will end today in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s (DRC)
A tour of Central Africa by French President Emmanuel Macron will end today in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s (DRC) capital Kinshasa.
The tour included stops in Gabon, Angola and the Republic of Congo, where he promised to reduce French troops deployments and increase efforts to train and equip their African counterparts.
France’s regional influence has declined since it was forced to withdraw its forces from Mali and Burkina Faso last year after anti-colonial administrations took power in both countries. Russian influence on the continent has grown in recent years, as Russia’s Wagner Group has stepped in to fill the security void in Mali. In response, France visited Cameroon, Benin and Guinea-Bissau last May in order to repatriate African artifacts and repair relations with local governments.
Macron’s outreach efforts indicate a new phase in France-Africa relations, although whether this lasts will depend on if he can fulfill his promises on drawing back French troops. As France’s military presence in Africa declines, Paris may pursue a soft power diplomatic strategy in the coming years in a bid to maintain a foothold on the continent. However, anti-colonial sentiments and on-going efforts by Russia and China to expand their economic influence will remain major obstacles and challenge France’s position on the continent.