Speaking in Lagos yesterday, French President Emmanuel Macron called on leaders from both continents to find new ways to stop the flow of people to the Mediterranean.
“We need more Africans to succeed in Africa,” Mr Macron told a crowd in Lagos. Too many people were leaving peaceful countries such as Senegal, Ivory Coast and Nigeria because of “a lack of hope, a lack of opportunities”, he said. “These people, given the magnitude of this wave, cannot be accepted, at least, not all of them.”
Mr Macron spoke of the need for the European Union to work with African countries. European leaders had agreed last month to explore setting up centres in Northern Africa to assess asylum applications before migrants reached the Mediterranean.
Mr. Macros also emphasized the importance of population control measures on the continent. Nigeria’s population is forecast by some projections to more than double by 2050 to 400 million, overtaking Pakistan, Brazil, Indonesia and the US to become the third most populous country.
The day before, Mr. Macron had partied at Fela’s Shrine as part of his bid to extend French cultural influence into Angolophone Africa. He also visited Ghana last year. “What happens in the Shrine stays in the Shrine,” Mr Macron joked, speaking English, to the cheering guests. He also announced a Season of African Cultures, which will bring music, fashion, cinema and theatre from the continent to France.
His visit to the Shrine, a spot synonymous with rebellion, sex and drugs, was the first by any foreign or Nigerian leader. Mr Macron told young Nigerian entrepreneurs that he was a new-generation French leader who had broken with his country’s paternalistic approach to the continent. “My generation never experienced colonialism. I mean it’s part of our history obviously. You have to recognise all the past deeds and face them, but you have to move forward,” he said. “I am not one that tells Africa what to do.. We have to build a new common narrative.”
Mr Macron went directly to the Shrine from Abuja, where he’d met President Buhari after a summit in Mauritania on Monday. He assured the Nigerian leader of France’s determination to pursue its war against groups linked to al-Qaeda and Islamic State in the Sahel region. He also signed a $475 million agreement to fund projects in three Nigerian states.