A sign of the decline of French influence in French-speaking Africa? The new French Council of Investors in Africa (Cian) barometer of opinion leaders only ranks fifth among the countries where 1,244 African leaders have the best image. Decoding.

Only 21% of opinion leaders in French-speaking Africa rank France among the top 3 countries where they have the best image. This is the main lesson of the first “Cian Barometer of Opinion Leaders in Africa” published on Thursday 7 February.

To carry out this ranking at the request of the Cian, Immar R&C interviewed 1,244 opinion leaders from business, politics, culture and religion – including 24% women – in eight French-speaking African countries between June and September 2018, both in the Maghreb (Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco), in West Africa (Senegal, Côte d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso) and in Central Africa (Cameroon, DRC), explains Brahim Sail, head of the survey institute. “These decision-makers shape public opinion in French-speaking Africa,” explains Étienne Giros, deputy president of Cian.

According to the survey, African leaders rank fifth (21%) among the countries with the best image. Germany is cited by 45% of decision-makers, followed by China (37%), the United States (34%) and Japan (34%).

Only 53% of opinion leaders consider France to be “an advantageous partner for Africa”, as the study shows, ranking seventh behind China (81%), Japan (81%), Germany, Turkey, the USA and India. However, these results vary from region to region: while the overall figure is 53%, 70% of Maghreb decision-makers consider relations with France to be advantageous for the continent, compared with 44% in West Africa and 44% in Central Africa.

France “without self-confidence”.
Brahim Sail, whose company conducted the survey, warns against jumping to conclusions. “This is a photo at the time of the situation for which we have no basis for comparison. Only from the next collection wave, planned for 2019, will it be possible to deduce a trend,” he explains.

“The subjective dimension of these reactions is very strong as they are influenced by recent events. In addition, the countries studied are all former French colonies for which the relationship with France is old. There is a kind of bonus for the last one to arrive,” he concludes.

“This positive image of Germany is linked to the Compact with Africa and the Chancellor’s decision to accept almost one million refugees since 2015,” says Etienne Giros. France, which is doing a great job in Africa, is not confident enough to highlight its positive actions on the continent. »

“Western countries are hampered by the conditions they impose – in terms of governance, anti-corruption, environmental standards – while new emerging actors liberate themselves from these rules. In addition, all funding for these new players goes to companies, which is not the case in France, says Étienne Giros. In France, we are too inclined to be self-critical. The various French players, be they political, economic or even media players, do not support each other sufficiently, which is inevitably reflected in Africa. »

Source: Jeune Afrique