Martine Vassal: “Africa is a priority economic destination”

HASWhen the geopolitics and geoeconomics of the world are altered by the evolution of an international situation that seems to open a new era, what view should we have of the relationship between Africa, France and Europe? What initiatives need to be taken to meet the challenges of a future that many are wondering? Martine Vassal, president of the metropolis of Aix-Marseille-Provence and also president of the departmental council of Bouches-du-Rhône, has entrusted Point Afrique.

The point of Africa: Following the Emerging Valley and the Emerging Mediterranean, Marseille hosted the Europe-Africa Forum on “European and African metropolises, actors of global recovery”, a month after the European Union-African Union summit in Brussels. . How do you think this commitment of the city of Marseille in the Europe-Mediterranean-Africa dialogue at this difficult time in the world with the crisis in Ukraine seems opportune and relevant?

Martine Vassal: While our worlds live under the threat of humanitarian and security uncertainties or dramas, current events show us that it is more than ever our duty to continue to build, weaving links between our peoples, our cultures and our continents. . This problematic context reminds us to what extent this truth must be a priority that is renewed every time. I would like to take this opportunity to welcome the first edition of the Europe-Africa Forum, to reaffirm the importance of the challenges of co-construction in the stability of the world, to emphasize the urgent need to cooperate, to develop associations, in order to ensure lasting peace. It is indisputable that Africa, in all its diversity, is and will be one of the engines of growth in the world. It has proven this, among other things, thanks to a young population, a spirit of innovation and an incredible mobilization to produce innovative solutions! It has established itself as a commercial player that has and has the means to finance its development. I want to believe, when it comes to rebuilding the relationship between our two regions of the world, that we, Aix-Marseille-Provence, can be a source of inspiration because of the good practices we have developed to strengthen this complementarity.

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Some call for the establishment of a new paradigm for a refoundation that brings hope and innovation shared between Europe, the Mediterranean and Africa. What are the stones already laid by Marseilles in this direction and how does the metropolis of Aix-Marseille-Provence now think to feed this ambition?

A renowned digital and logistical hub, the territory of the metropolis of Aix-Marseille-Provence is a real welcoming land for companies involved in the Africa-Europe relationship, thanks to top-level infrastructure (1er French port in Africa, 1er regional air hub in Africa, submarine cables, etc.), our exceptional geostrategic position, our historical, economic and cultural links, our dynamic ecosystem turned towards the Mediterranean … All these assets give our territory a unique role as the union. Five thousand talented Africans, students, entrepreneurs, executives, are trained or supported each year at our university, the world’s leading French-speaking higher education center. The Marseille campus of the French Development Agency (AFD) has supported more than 15,000 executives in Marseille in fifteen years, and the University of Aix-Marseille trains more than 3,000 African students each year. The metropolis of Aix-Marseille-Provence is home to a network of companies strongly involved in the relationship with Africa, with large emblematic companies such as CMA CGM, Olympique de Marseille, Compagnie fruitière, but also with an exemplary community of entrepreneurs. ‘Africalink. net. Our metropolis concentrates 20% of African investments in France, such as the establishment of Ingenio, a Congolese company specializing in telecommunications, the HPS group of Moroccan origin, one of the world leaders in electronic banking, or even the Lifi-Led start-up, founded by an engineer from Côte d’Ivoire. These examples are proof, if any, of the strong potential of partnership that depends on all of us, Europeans and Africans, to carry out, as the challenges are great!

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Both in the construction of the cities of tomorrow and in a practical and adapted approach to digital technology, the metropolis of Aix-Marseille-Provence has positioned itself as a space and a laboratory for reflection between Europe and Africa. How do you see the offer of Marseille as a bridge and as a protagonist of the co-construction between these two spaces in the coming years?

In identifying the African continent as the priority economic destination of the metropolis, we have clearly measured the extent of the challenge to be taken on and the responsibility that is ours, as a Euro-African capital, in building new alliances. The issues at stake, both in terms of peace and education, training, knowledge exchange and health, are considerable. At the head of the metropolis of Aix-Marseille-Provence and the departmental council of Bouches-du-Rhône, I have strived to do so, encouraging African companies to internationalize, encouraging our local companies to exchange and invest , federating through “Provence Africa Connect” all the energies to grow together, like what we are doing with Emerging Valley, this great meeting place for African and European technology. If metropolises are, today, actors in economic recovery and transitions, it is up to future generations to give life to a new Euro-African alliance. Now it’s our turn to help them develop their skills, encourage them to create and innovate. Whole!

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