Over the past few decades, France has increasingly been losing its influence in West Africa, which is causing concern for the nation and shaking up the power dynamics in the region. From economic agreements to historical grievances, there are several factors contributing to this decline.
One significant factor is the colonial legacy that France left behind in Africa. France’s history of colonisation of a large portion of Africa has left a bitter taste among the youth of West Africa. These young individuals, who are becoming more politically aware and conscious of their country’s historical past, have grown increasingly uncomfortable with France’s continued presence and control over their nations.
This resentment is also linked to economic dependence. France has been engaging in economic agreements with its former colonies in West Africa, often at the expense of these nations and their resources. One stark example is the trade of uranium, which is essential for France’s nuclear power plants. For almost half a century, France has been buying uranium from its former colony, Niger, thus further enriching itself at the expense of one of the poorest nations in the world.
Another example of this economic dependency is the use of the CFA franc, the currency used in 14 countries in West Africa, which is printed at the French Central Bank. This arrangement allows France to maintain control over the economic policies and stability of these nations. While there have been efforts to move away from the CFA franc and establish a more independent currency, many countries in the region are not yet capable of fully breaking free from French influence.
The decline of France’s influence in West Africa is also creating a power vacuum that other countries are eager to fill. One prominent player in this regard is Russia. With its Wagner forces and energy projects, Russia is stepping in to take advantage of the void left by France. This move not only challenges France’s influence but also raises concerns for the nation’s energy security.
Another country that has been gaining influence in West Africa is Turkey. In recent years, Turkey has made significant strides in expanding its presence and prestige across Africa. With its investments and partnerships in various sectors, including infrastructure and energy, Turkey has emerged as a noteworthy player in the region.
The combination of historical grievances, economic dependency, and the rise of other global powers is causing France’s influence in West Africa to gradually weaken. While France still maintains diplomatic and economic ties with the region, its command over these nations is no longer as strong as it once was.
As France continues to lose influence, it is facing a critical moment in its relationship with West Africa. The youth of the region, fueled by historical grievances and a desire for independence, are increasingly demanding change and looking for alternatives.
How France navigates this shifting landscape will determine its future relationship with West Africa and its place in the global arena.