I’ve been receiving a rather frequent barrage of cultural e-mails from the French embassy (La Maison Francaise) for awhile now. I’ve noted that the Embassy has been involved in a fair number of events involving artists from various Francophone countries in Africa.
However, my inbox this morning served notice of an Africa related event with a very different flavor. The Embassy’s next Le Monde Diplomatique Debate (these are held four times a year) will discuss “Rising Africa and the BRICs: Is Africa truly rising or are the positive developments we observed deteriorating?” on May 16.
The event will feature the head of the Africa Growth Initiative at the Brookings Institution, journalists from Le Monde Diplomatique (Anne Cecile-Robert) and Foreign Policy (James Traub) and a senior official at the IMF (Amadou Sy).
I’m betting that this will be a very big picture discussion in which the BRICS (the embassy communications uses a lowercase ‘s’) will figure more prominently than any developments in Africa. Nonetheless, it’s good to see that the French Embassy is addressing African issues in such a prominent way.
A cursory review of Francophone countries seems to indicate that their political situations are deteriorating. A BRICS country, South Africa, recently suffered a disastrous setback in the Central African Republic, there are opaque reports of an attempted coup in Chad, and I’d suggest that the political process in Guinea and the Ivory Coast is not getting back on track. If any readers attend, I’d be very curious to hear what topics come up and to what extent China in Africa and Mali dominate the conversation.