Our History

Created in 1941, AFD is the world’s longest-standing development institution.
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Sixty years in Niger, AFD History
In 1941, during the fury of World War II, General de Gaulle created the Central Fund for Free France (CCFL) in London. The CCFL acted simultaneously as treasury department, central bank, and development bank for the French territories that had rallied to the Allied cause. Its zone of influence spread very quickly, in both the French overseas territories and in Africa, and its monetary role diminished as it began to target project financing.

Over the years, the CCFL, which became Agence Française de Développement (AFD) in 1998, has made changes to its missions, partnerships, and geographical scope so that it can adapt to the new challenges of international development. In 2018, AFD Group supported 4,000 projects that concretely improve the daily lives of people in 115 countries.

The 1940s

General de Gaulle created the Caisse Centrale de la France Libre (Central Fund for Free France – CCFL) in 1941. It provided the Free French administration with a financial institution that was simultaneously its treasury department, central bank, and development bank for the territories that had rallied to the Allied cause.

The CCFL was transferred to Algiers in late 1943 and then to Paris in September 1944, where it became the Caisse Centrale de la France d’Outre-mer (Central Fund for French Overseas Territories – CCFOM).

100-franc note issued by the CCFOM in French Guiana
100-franc note issued by the CCFOM in French Guiana


In 1946, a new law set the foundations for the future French cooperation system, providing for State grants and CCFOM loans. This allowed the CCFOM to grant loans directly to the communities and public entities of Overseas France.

The CCFOM’s first field office opened in Brazzaville in 1947. Its role was to support the economic stakeholders and the social development initiatives on the ground.

The 1950s, 60s, and 70s

Hydroelectric dam in the Congo, 1950 © AFD
Hydroelectric dam in the Congo, 1950 © AFD


Against the backdrop of the Cold War and of the emergence of new independent countries, France sought to maintain a privileged relationship with its former colonies. In 1958, the CCFOM became the Caisse Centrale de Coopération Économique (Central Fund for Economic Cooperation – CCCE). Its role became more precise, to include financing, loans, bond issuance, and advisory services. Priority was given to project quality and feasibility.

CCCE logo
Logo of Caisse Centrale de Coopération Économique 


In 1963, the CCCE transformed its training service into the Centre d’études financières, économiques et bancaires (Center for Financial, Economic, and Banking Studies – CEFEB) to provide better support for its partners. This new organization proposed training and capacity-building programs to the beneficiaries of CCCE financing.

From 1975, the CCCE began to develop its activities and to expand its geographical horizon, as the French government authorized it to grant financing at market conditions and to extend its scope of intervention to English- and Portuguese-speaking countries of Africa as well as to Haiti.

In 1977, Proparco was established as a subsidiary devoted to the private sector, with the aim of supporting local, national, or French entrepreneurs wanting to initiate projects in developing countries, especially in Africa.

logo proparco 1985

 

The 1980s and 90s

In 1981, the CCCE was authorized to grant budget support to countries facing difficulty faced with the debt crisis at that time. The aim was to support the financial recovery of the countries receiving assistance, the adoption of large-scale economic and financial reforms, and various sector reforms such as the restructuring of agricultural value chains affected by the drop in export income.

Nine years later, at the 1990 La Baule Summit, the French president François Mitterrand decided that the CCCE would from that time on provide grants to the poorest African countries, in order to avoid a worsening of the debt crisis.

In 1992, the Rio de Janeiro Earth Summit made sustainable development a common objective for the entire planet. It also became a top issue for the CCCE.

On October 30 of that year, the CCCE became the Caisse Française de Développement (French Development Fund – CFD). It was given the mission of financing economic and financial development in more than 60 countries (in Africa, the Mediterranean, Asia, and the Pacific Ocean) and in the French overseas departments and territories.

In 1994, the CFD was further entrusted with the management of the Fonds français pour l’environnement mondial (French Facility for Global Environment –FFEM). The FFEM was created by the French government following the Rio Summit, to support sustainable development projects in no matter which developing country.

In 1998, the CFD became Agence Française de Développement (AFD). As part of the reform of France’s development cooperation policy, AFD was designated as the main operator of French development aid, under the joint authority of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Finance.
 

logo afd 1998

The 2000s

In 2001, as part of the policy to cancel the debt of the poorest countries (decided on by the G8 Summit in 1999), France launched the Debt-Reduction and Development Contract (C2D). In this mechanism, the eligible countries continue to honor their debt, but once it is reimbursed AFD gives them back a corresponding amount in the form of donations allocated to programs to fight poverty.

In December 2003, AFD’s scope of intervention extended to emerging countries. AFD became authorized on an experimental basis to take action in China and in Turkey. In 2007, Brazil, India, Indonesia, and Pakistan were added to this list. Then, in 2009, Latin America also became a full-fledged area for AFD action.

In 2009, the government entrusted AFD with the task of financing initiatives by French and international civil society organizations (CSOs); these initiatives had been managed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs until then.

The 2010s

In September 2015, following the Addis Ababa Summit that highlighted the new challenges for development financing, the United Nations adopted 17 Sustainable Development Objectives, the SDGs. They propose each country a roadmap for eradicating poverty, preserving the environment and the climate, and supporting good governance and prosperity. AFD’s action is fully in line with these SDGs.

In December of that year, the Paris Agreement on the climate was signed. Its implementation became one of the core missions of AFD. In 2016, the French government gave even more substance to the actions of AFD, which celebrated its 75th anniversary that year! Its budget for development assistance was increased by an additional 4 billion euros up to 2020, including 2 billion for the climate.
 

ODD


In December of that year, the Paris Agreement on the climate was signed. Its implementation became one of the core missions of AFD. In 2016, the French government gave even more substance to the actions of AFD, which celebrated its 75th anniversary that year! Its budget for development assistance was increased by an additional 4 billion euros up to 2020, including 2 billion for the climate.

2017, a record level of commitments

In 2017, AFD entered into a strategic alliance with the French public sector financial institution Caisse des dépôts et consignations (CDC). This alliance provides France with a powerful and coherent system for sustainable-development financing, on its own territory and abroad.

In December, AFD assumed the chair of the International Development Finance Club (IDFC). Alongside other donors, the 23 members of IDFC undertook to align their financing with the Paris Agreement. This commitment was the first of its kind. That year, AFD Group reached a record level of commitments, with 10.4 billion euros and 752 new development projects.

New ambitions

In 2018, the French government decided on an unprecedented increase in the resources allocated to its partnership policy for development and for international solidarity, with the goal of devoting 0.55% of national income to official development assistance (ODA) by 2022.

In 2019, AFD Group will expand to include Expertise France, the public agency of reference for France’s international technical assistance.

Today, AFD is present in 115 countries through a network of 85 offices and its staff of 2650.