JOHANNESBURG – French President Emmanuel Macron is attempting to woo East Africa in the wake of China’s Africa expansion which saw the Asian nation forgive some of the continent’s debt, invest millions and establish new business and diplomatic ties.
On Tuesday Macron kicked off his two-day tour of the region by visiting former French colony Djibouti and promising to establish a “respectful” partnership as Africa’s debt to China grows, the East African reported.
The French president described Djibouti, the last colony to gain independence from France, as a “historical partner and strategic ally” and “the point of entry” to the Horn of Africa region.
Djibouti for its part hopes to become a major trading hub as President Ismail Omar Guelleh competes for business with overcrowded African ports, including Mombasa in Kenya.
Eritrea inaugurated its biggest and newest port, partly funded by the Chinese, two years ago as part of an infrastructure expansion project that includes three other ports and a railroad to Addis Ababa the capital of landlocked Ethiopia
Being located between Ethiopia, Somalia and Eritrea, makes Djibouti a critical location not only for business but also for military bases for France, China, Japan and the United States.
Beijing has already made inroads in the region, allowing it to reach Africa and Europe via the Indian Ocean via the “Maritime Silk Road”, by lending huge sums to African countries to both develop infrastructure and support trade.
On Wednesday Macron is scheduled to meet leaders of the African Union before making the first-ever trip to Kenya by a sitting French president.
On Thursday, he will attend the One Planet Summit in Nairobi on reversing climate change.
- African News Agency (ANA)