“Why hold a New Africa-France Summit?”

The Africa-France Summit to be held on 8 October in Montpellier will be radically different. Without Heads of State and institutions, it will be exclusively devoted to Africa’s and France’s young people, who are every day building the future of France and Africa’s relationship. It aims for its participants to envisage together opportunities and the first tangible actions to renew our relationship. For the first time, hundreds of young businesspeople, artists, researchers, athletes, students and prominent figures from Africa and France will meet together in the same place to achieve this goal. For a half day, they will discuss ways to forge new ties between our networks, come up with joint projects and build bridges, with a focus on five major themes: citizen engagement, entrepreneurship and innovation, higher education and research, culture and sport. Beforehand, work sessions and meetings will be held, in France and Africa, in order to build genuine collective momentum up until the Summit and beyond

The five themes

For each session, the aim is to build new networks between civil society players from Africa and France to lead the new, long-term and tangible Africa-France relationship.

Citizen engagement and democracy

Sovereignty, freedom of expression, citizenship, mobility and democracy will be the main topics addressed during Africa-France Dialogues. They illustrate the demands of the younger generations and expectations vis-à-vis France. They also reflect on misunderstandings and hindrances to the creation of new forms of relationship. Innovative experiences, in particular at the level of local regions, the experiences of joint construction, citizen movements, diasporas in France and new networks and think tanks are drivers of change.

Entrepreneurship and innovation

Drawing on the initiatives of support to the African private sector and to entrepreneurship since the Ouagadougou speech, and on the sharing of inspiring experiences, nearly 500 African businesspeople in the fields of digital technology, agriculture, cultural and creative industries and sport will exchange with their French counterparts, especially those from the diasporas, to imagine the tools to facilitate the economic networks tomorrow, fostering the design and execution of innovative investment projects.

 

Higher education and research

Feeding, Providing care, Protecting African and French researchers, students, associations and businesspeople will share the challenges of rebuilding academic relationships, partnerships in research and the dissemination of innovation, student mobility and implementation of common projects (such as the Great Green Wall, human and animal health, agroecology, etc.) to build together an unprecedented continuum across teaching, research, innovation and entrepreneurship.

Cultural heritage and creativity

Artists, curators, designers and cultural entrepreneurs will address the challenges related to the return of cultural property, African youth’s access to their own cultural heritage and museum cooperation, as well as discussions on contemporary creativity and support to African cultural and creative industries.

Sport

Four years after the Ouagadougou speech, during which President Macron indicated that he wanted to make sport “a driver for youth and economic and social development in Africa”, the New Summit will bring together the main actors in this sector. In liaison with the city of Montpellier and prominent figures in the world of African sport and the diaspora, there will be a focus on team sports, urban sport and e-sport.

The plenary session

In the afternoon of 8 October, President Macron will speak in person and directly with representatives of Africa’s and France’s young people, including from diasporas. Four years after President Macron’s speech to the students of the University of Ouagadougou, it will provide the opportunity to listen to what young people themselves expect from the Africa-France relationship and define together the new fundamentals of this partnership.

This public discussion will be prepared beforehand in a series of dialogues coordinated by the Cameroonian academic Achille Mbembé, along with a committee of thirteen prominent figures from Africa and diasporas. Bringing together more than 5,000 young people, these dialogues have enabled them to address together the main issues of the relationship. Those that still pose challenges and need to be formulated, analysed and overcome, and those that have already generated strong shared expectations and proposals for actions.

This meeting at the “summit” of Africa’s and France’s young people therefore is the desire to reinvent the Africa-France Summit together through those who keep it alive on a daily basis. And it is the conviction that these life experiences and these human stories are what make our relationship so singular.

The plenary session on 8 October at the Arena de Montpellier, will take place in two formats:

  • First in a more personal format so that these experiences can be retraced and the reality of the Africa-France connection can take form. The profiles of Africa’s and France’s young talents will be showcased in addition to some emblematic figures who will participate

as keynote speakers to share their individual stories in Africa or France, or both.

  • Second in the format of discussions and debates between President Macron, Achille Mbembé and a dozen young talents from Africa and France, on the major issues of the relationship and strong proposals for writing the next page of our history together.

This plenary session could be concluded with a musical tribute to this relationship.

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