New Africa-France Summit: Moving to a new level of engagement

published on 08 October 2021
  • logo linkedin
  • logo email
Chistian Yoka
On the eve of the New Africa France Summit to be held on October 8 in Montpellier, AFD’s Director for Africa, Christian Yoka, takes a look at the challenges facing Africa and describes the role that AFD plays – and can play – in conjunction with Africa’s young and rapidly changing societies.

What’s the background to this Africa-France summit?

Christian Yoka: This event comes in the wake of the renewal in the Africa-France relationship set in motion by President Macron since his speech in Ouagadougou in 2017. That speech marked a firm determination to work for change, coupled with a strong desire to address youth.


With the focus on youth, the summit will not invite heads of state: this is a first for this type of gathering. Instead, it will be an occasion to highlight young people’s priorities, civil society, entrepreneurs, artists, and people involved in sports and development. 

Youth will be at the heart of the debate 

Youth are our future. It’s a fact that can’t be ignored anywhere, but it’s even more true in Africa. In fact, in 2050 more than one third of the world’s youth will be African. Today, Africa is already the youngest continent, with 60% of Africans under 24 years of age. And 440 million young people will enter the labor market in Africa between now and 2035.

That’s why we have to provide support to all the fields in which these young people can reach their full potential. We must meet training and education needs, especially for young girls, as well as the need that young people feel to express their talents, in a variety of fields. We adjust our tools to meet these objectives, in addition to what we do elsewhere.

What are the main objectives of the October 8 summit?

The New Africa-France Summit should act as an opportunity to scale up a number of our major programs and areas of action, such as entrepreneurship and others that are still relatively new in the development aid spectrum, such as sports and culture. AFD is actively involved in this process. But that in no way means that AFD is withdrawing from its historical sectors of action in Africa. What we’re doing is diversifying our actions to meet the new challenges of the continent.

It’s worth mentioning our Accès Culture and Afrique Créative programs, which will be greatly expanded to reach a broader audience. Likewise for Choose Africa and Choose Africa Resilience on small businesses: the aim is to make greater progress by introducing the key aspect of digital technology. For the sports component, the Sport en Commun platform will be further developed. Furthermore, a lot of focus should be placed on the issue of civic engagement. On all these fronts, we are moving into a new dimension, a new level of engagement.