As French President Emmanuel Macron heads to central Africa Wednesday (1 March) on a four-nation trip, the visit will be part of a new strategy toward the continent that he defined as “partnership,” “humility,” and “reorganization” in his televised address on Monday Feb. 27.
In a diplomatic drive to test out a new “responsible relationship” with Africa, Macron will first stop in Gabon for an environmental summit, before heading to Angola, then the Republic of Congo – also known as Congo-Brazzaville – and finally neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
His Africa tour comes against the backdrop of anti-French sentiments that run high in some former French colonies and also the rising Russian and Chinese influence. In his speech, Macron said that while French military bases in Africa would be reorganized based on goals defined by African hosts, Paris will also conduct more training, supply more equipment and work more closely with local troops. Overall, France must show a “profound humility” and carve out a “new balanced and mutual responsible relationship” with African nations, the French leader said.
Macron has insisted Africa is a priority of his second term, and in July he went to Cameroon, Benin and Guinea-Bissau. In Gabon, he will attend the One Forest Summit on preserving forests worldwide, including along the vast Congo River basin. After Gabon, he heads to the former Portuguese colony of Angola as part of a drive to enhance French ties with English- and Portuguese-speaking parts of Africa. Stopping in Congo-Brazzaville, another former French colony, he will end his trip in the neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo – ruled by Belgium during the colonial era – on Friday and Saturday.