The French President Monsieur Emmanuel Macron spends four-day visit to the east African countries.

The president first visited last Tuesday 12 march 2019, Djibouti, which is the last colony to gain independence from France in 1977. The president pledged a “respectful” partnership in the face of growing African indebtedness to China, which is fast expanding its foothold on the continent.

Djibouti, the smallest east African countries has a paramount role to the region due to its strategic location along a key shipping lane leading to the Suez Canal. Djibouti is going to be the new Dubai in the region, and is struggling for business with overwhelmed African ports including Mombasa in Kenya.

President Macron also spends a visit to the French troops stationed in Djibouti. USA, CHINA, FRANCE and JAPAN have a military bases to this small country in the region, which gives Djibouti an additional importance to the big power countries including USA, EUROPE and CHINA.

CHINA influences in the Continent!

For the last decades, the clout of CHINA to the region was augmenting drastically. CHINA implemented/implementing several developmental projects to Djibouti including ports. At the close of the 2018 China-Africa Forum for Cooperation (FOCAC) summit held in Beijing, the world’s second biggest economy announced that it had set up a new R900 billion ($60 billion) kitty meant for Africa’s development. Far and wide, China has implemented/implementing the African continent tremendous projects including: –

  1. Railways: about five African countries have had their railway systems funded by china including Nigeria, Ethiopia, Kenya, Angola and Djibouti.   
  2. China also funded the African Union headquarters located in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
  3. China additionally funded west African regional bloc (ECOWAS) headquarters at Abuja.
  4. China also funded Ghana’s Bauxite Exploration project aimed at further exploiting the West African country’s vast solid mineral deposits.
  5. China also funded Angola’s Caculo Cubaca Hydropower plant
  6. China also will be investing funded Congo’s Special Economic Zone project.
  7. China also signed a deal with Nigeria to build an oil refinery in Edo State at a cost of R30.1 billion.  
  8. China also is implementing plenty of projects in Zambia, including Zambia’s Cement Factory.
  9. China also is funding Egypt’s new city.  Shanghai-listed developer China Fortune Land Development is set to invest up to R301.1 billion to build an upmarket residential district, an industrial zone, schools, a university and recreational centers in a new city in Egypt.
  10. China also is funding Zimbabwe’s new parliament.

According to these enormous projects that china has funded, china’s influence in the continent becomes inexorable, invincible and ineluctable. More specific, china is currently focusing on and emphasizing its role and presence to the horn of Africa countries.  

Macron’s charm offensive to the region!

President macron also visited last Tuesday 12 in Ethiopia where he receives an official invitation from the Ethiopian prime minister his Excellency Dr. Abiy Ahmed. Ethiopia is the most populous country in east Africa and the second in the continent.

During his meeting with prime minister Abiy Ahmed, Macron said “that since the latter’s ascension to power last April,2018, France’s vision of Ethiopia “has profoundly changed,” declaring Paris wanted to write “a new page” in relations with Addis Ababa.

Macron visits Nairobi, the first-ever French president came in Kenya!

Last Wednesday 13 march, the historic and unprecedented visit of French leader to Kenya has witnessed. Emmanuel Macron came in Kenya in order to reinforce the cordial relationship among the two state. As Mr. Kenyatta already posted in his official twitter, the two leader signed agreements which concerned the Nairobi Central Railway Station, energy projects, plant health programmes and the Big Four Agenda on food security, universal health coverage, affordable housing and manufacturing.

Furthermore, president Kenyatta suggested to macron to keep supporting the fight against the terrorism in the region. Also, Kenyatta puts forward to increase the funding from the European Union towards the AMISOM, European Union has commuted its funding the AMISOM since 2016.

Macron demeans Somalia’s role in the region!

The French president visits the east African countries including Ethiopia, Kenya and Djibouti, but, he despises to visit Somalia, which is, the third populous country in the region. His belittling towards Somalia can be for security reason or some other constraints. Somalia has the largest coastline in Africa. Historically and contemporary, France and Somalia have rock solid and resolute relationship. France opened its embassy in Mogadishu shortly after Somalia’s independence in 1960.

But, the office was closed in 1993, after the civil strife erupted in Somalia. And its Somali counterpart likewise maintained an embassy in Paris. France keeps its cordial relationship with Somalia governments from Transitional National Government (TNG) 2000 in Arta-Djibouti, Transitional Federal Governments (TFG) in Embagathi in 2004, and in Djibouti in 2009, and the Federal Governments of Somalia from 2012 to present. Additionally, there are large portion of Somalis, who live in France.

According to French census made in 2006, stated that there are 1,373 Somali-born residents living France. In this regard, Paris appoints Remi Marechaux in 2014 as the French ambassador to Somalia, and the current French Ambassador to Somalia is Mr. Antoine Sivan, accredited since July 2017.

Moreover, France is, one of the biggest contributors to the European Union, and EU provides the operation funding of AMISOM. So, the mandate of AMISOM is to fight against the terrorist groups in Somalia. With all these remarkable issues, there is no way to disregard the role of Somalia in the region. Dude!

Abiy requests Macron to get support from France to Ethiopia’s navy!

The sickening and ridiculous part of Macron’s visit in the region is, Abiy requests France to gain training from France to Ethiopia’s navy, knowing that Ethiopia is the only landlocked country in the region! This shocking over ambition creates bewildering and doubt to the region.

Some political pundits say that, Abiy is anticipating one day Ethiopia bestrides Somalia like annexation! But, the funny thing is, why the Somali political leaders are not reacting such provocative and truculent demeanor of Ethiopian government against its neighbor Somalia?!

Abiy repeats and persists announcing such instigative words famously and courageously, while Somalia leaders demonstrate cajoling!

China and Westerns are fighting in the region!

For sack of the geographical importance, the region is jugular vein. So, that is why, the big powers are struggling to have an influence and overarch the region. For instance, Djibouti, the smallest country in the region gathers the big powers, USA, CHINA, FRANCE and JAPAN have equally military bases in Djibouti. But how Djibouti handles all those conflict of interests among these big nations is commendable and exemplary.

If we backtrack, Macron’s speech during his visit to Djibouti, he was rebuking china’s debt to Africa. Macron admonishes that; china’s engagement in the region could be short term gain, but long term pain.

Anwar Abdifatah

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect’s editorial stance.