With a record level of commitments in 2012 (EUR 1.5bn) and the strategic priority given to the private sector in 2013, AFD has underscored its role and specificity in the French overseas provinces: maximize synergies between these communities and neighboring countries in order to find regional solutions.
French overseas province, French overseas provinces: what economic and social disparities are reflected by this broad term?
The move from singular to plural reflects a reality: the overseas provinces are disparate in many respects. Firstly, from a demographic point of view: French Guiana is France’s youngest department and is extremely dynamic, whereas the French West Indies are becoming the oldest French department.
There is then the migration aspect: the Reunionese tend to stay in Réunion, while active West Indian graduates work more easily in mainland France or abroad.
We can also think in terms of comparative advantages. Here again, the overseas provinces are not on the same line. While New Caledonia can rely on substantial nickel reserves, which contribute to its growth and thereby to the high level of per capita GDP, the other provinces are seeking growth drivers that will allow them to further integrate their environment.
Last year, we published a study calculating the Human Development Index (HDI) in the overseas provinces in order to make a comprehensive analysis of development gaps. The results are striking: for example, the index of French Guiana and, especially, Mayotte is significantly lower than in Guadeloupe or New Caledonia. In addition, the improvement in the HDI over the past twenty years, which reflects the catching-up process in these provinces, has not been seen in French Polynesia.
Do the overseas provinces nevertheless face common challenges?
The overseas provinces, however different they may be, share common issues compared to mainland France. They are, with the exception of Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon, located in the tropical and equatorial region. They account for 10% of the world’s coral reefs and four biodiversity hotspots: the Caribbean, the Indian Ocean Islands, New Caledonia and Polynesia. Furthermore, they are closed economies, particularly in terms of energy. They have a high-carbon energy mix, unlike mainland France, which benefits from less polluting nuclear energy and hydropower.
The overseas provinces are directly confronted with dominant trends, such as the increase in the price of raw materials (agricultural, hydrocarbons…), climate change (rise in temperatures and the sea level) and the loss of biodiversity. Beyond these long-term trends, they face different types of shock: economic, related to speculation on the cost of raw materials and mineral resources; social, due to the high cost of living, the number of people outside the labor market, the lack of housing and infrastructure; climate (cyclones, drought…); geological (volcanism, earthquakes, tsunamis…); epidemiological (chikungunya, dengue fever, avian flu…). This situation severely undermines small isolated economies.
What can AFD bring to these overseas communities?
Solutions adapted to very short and long-term issues. How to better anticipate crises, how to manage them, how to overcome them? The situation in the overseas provinces (closed economies, tropical environment with all the climate implications) is common to many of the foreign countries where we operate. It is a question of sharing the right institutional, organizational and financial solutions.
‘‘AFD is a communicator of solutions between the French overseas provinces and foreign countries.’’
What are the focus sectors?
AFD is very active on the issue of energy transition: demand management, energy efficiency and renewable energy. Using low-carbon energy reduces the impact on the climate and increases resistance to speculative shocks. AFD also has expertise in urban development. It finances more sustainable cities that are better designed for the community by creating public transport, eco-neighborhoods…
AFD also participates in reflection on the climate agenda and biodiversity agenda at the national and international levels. These two topics are core to its strategy and it is able to develop synergies between the experience of foreign countries and the experience of the overseas provinces. The aim is to propose an approach involving ecosystems as the cornerstone for climate change adaptation.
The coexistence of these different areas of operation within a single public institution is one of our strengths. Sharing the experiences of the overseas provinces and foreign countries generates economic activity, stimulates consumption, production and the dissemination of goods and services. In addition, exporting the ideas of the overseas provinces is a way to promote France and its expertise and thereby contribute to a policy of influence.
Is the exchange of good practices a factor of regional integration?
Yes, it is an important driving force for integration. When the Indian Ocean Commission launches a natural disaster warning and response system, when an epidemic surveillance and investigation network is set up in the Indian Ocean, we are fully in this regional dynamic. We can also mention the geothermal system financed by AFD in Dominica, which will contribute to supplying renewable energy to Martinique and Guadeloupe.
We are convinced that while a number of responses are territorial (energy mix, demand management, urban development…), others are regional (biodiversity protection, containment of epidemics, natural disaster prevention and management…), hence the interest of operating in both the overseas provinces and in neighboring countries.
AFD is a communicator of solutions between the overseas provinces and foreign countries: an incubator and a developer of regional responses.
Document de travail n° 131| Approche comparée des évolutions économiques des Outre-mer français sur la période 1998-2010
Claude Parain (INSEE, Reunion) and Sébastien Merceron (ISPF, French Polynesia)
Contacts AFD : Virginie Olive & Françoise Rivière
This document analyses the impact of the 2008 economic crisis in the French overseas terrirories. The authors submit a comparative analysis of the macroeconomic data availablle for these territories beween 1998 and 2010.
AFD is cofinancing a telemedicine project in connection with the construction of a new hospital in Saint-Pierre. It provides for the procurement of the biomedical and IT equipment required to set up teleconsultation, teledialysis and teleradiology tools.
The EUR 3m loan agreement was signed on 21 September by Martine Béguin-Kerboul, Director of the François Dunan Hospital (CHFD), in the presence of Bruno Clavreul, Director of the IEDOM (French overseas departments note-issuing bank) in Saint-Pierre and AFD’s representative on the archipelago (see photo below).
Telemedicine, a core component of the hospital construction project
The Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon CHFD has been developing a telemedicine program for a few months now. The aim is to improve access to specialized healthcare for the residents of the archipelago (6,500 inhabitants), which is the only French territory in North America. It is part of the CHFD construction project, which has defined diagnosis assistance and support and supervision for specialist missions from mainland France as priority areas of improvement.
The development project aims to ensure that patients on the archipelago have access to quality healthcare on a par with services offered to residents in mainland France, guarantee timely management and review current healthcare costs, particularly those generated by medical evacuations (MEDEVACs) simply to have the opinions of specialized doctors.
Telemedicine is therefore key to achieving this objective as it allows the CHFD to better structure its mission as a secondary referral center by making it permanent and no longer only dependent on visits by missions or on MEDEVACs.
Tailoring healthcare services to local needs
The implementation of telemedicine in Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon – which is marked by an aging population and an increase in chronic diseases – therefore aims to provide a way of meeting major health objectives.
This first operation in the health sector in Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon is part of AFD’s strategy to improve social cohesion in the French Overseas Communities.
AFD is also meeting the demand expressed via the French Overseas Communities Interministerial Council to take more account of the specificities of these Communities in order to more effectively adapt healthcare services and health risk prevention policies.
View of the François Dunan Hospital Center (CHFD)