In spite of all the economic and political difficulties that Africa faces today, the continent still has to deal with the apparent conflict between francophone and anglophone countries. The two communities seem to be divided along various lines, mainly political, economic, cultural as well as social.
Recent studies have also shown that there are several important differences in attitudes between the two communities, with some researchers claiming that anglophones are a bit more conservative than their fellow French-speaking Africans.
The English-speaking African countries have often accused their French-speaking counterparts of lagging behind them in economic growth. In a world that views the continent through a monolithic lens, Africa is only as strong as its weakest member states .
Statistics from the World Bank Group show English-speaking countries ranking better in reference to entrepreneurial prowess, suitable environments for doing business and innovative than their French equivalents.
But this shouldn’t be a surprise, it’s far easier to do business, clear imports payment from borrowers in anglophone countries than in francophone countries
Worse still, seven of the 10 worst-ranked countries by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), with regards to human development, are French-speaking African states.
Out of the 187 countries included in the report, Burundi, Niger, and the Democratic Republic of Congo occupy the last three positions.
Perhaps the most visible contrast between Anglophone and francophone countries in Africa is in infrastructural development, with most French-speaking states appearing to lack important infrastructure like roads, rail system, internet access and areas that involves energy and water transport. Without these crucial amenities, the affected countries continue to drag behind in economic growth.
In comparison Africa’s infrastructural boom is happening in anglophone countries. Nigeria and South Africa have by far the best and most extensive system of metro and light rail systems in Sub Sahara Africa. In Ghana, besides good quality roads, Ghana just recently commisoned the biggest and most beautiful airport in West Africa. Kenya leads East Africa in urban infrastructure.
Johannesburg Metroline, South Africa.
Abuja Metro, Nigeria
Ghana’s Terminal 3 Airport, Kolkota
Developments like these are non existent in francophone States. Unfortunately rather than focus on development the powers that be are hell bent on turning these countries into essentially a military barracks.
Chad, Mali, Cameroon, Niger all play host to American MQ-9 Reaper drone bases. France maintains an airbase in Mali that houses a squadron of Mirage 2000s fighter jets and Rafale fighters.
The United States maintains not one, but two MQ-9 Predator drones in Niger Republic.
MQ-9 Predator drone in Niamey, Niger.
Cost : $120 million.
MQ-9 Reaper drone base in Agadez, Niger
Cost : $180 million.
The hub, codenamed “Air Base 201” was built on the outskirts of Agadez, the largest city in central Niger. Air Base 201 houses an upgraded model of a lethal Predator drone.
In 2015 a Nigerian Air Force reconnaissance aircraft captured what is believed to be a runway, and several more facilities under construction at the “Airbase 201”.
When probed, th US military refused to share details about the base.
“Due to operational security considerations, we don’t release details on numbers of personnel or specific missions or locations, including information regarding the Nigerien military air base located in Agadez,”
It should be noted that Niger is the only state from which Washington operates its lethal MQ-9 drones in Africa.
MQ-9 Reaper drone base in Mali
Cost : N/A
The $120 million MQ-9 Reaper drone base in Garoua, southern Cameroon, 80 km from Calabar.
While most African countries have had their fair share of internal conflict, francophone states have suffered the most from frequent civil wars and political conflicts, a situation that has left many of them once again economically disadvantaged.
In Cameroon 85 year old Paul Biya was just re-elected into office, and from the look of things he will likely die in power. It’s apparent the powers that be are not interested in pushing for ecomomic development reforms. They need these despots in power to keep the populace in check while they carry out clandestine and subversive activities via proxy they know the people will not stand for.
Over the last 20 years, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Ivory Coast, Mali, Burundi and the Central African Republic (CAR) have undergone major conflicts that have had a detrimental effect on development in the entire francophone region.
This is quite disconcerting given that francophone countries recorded significant economic growth compared to their English-speaking counterparts just a few years after independence.
Unfortunately, the political difference between anglophone and francophone African countries often plays out whenever the two have to come together to make a continental decision like electing African Union leaders. The exercise usually ends up being a competition between the two groups, with each preferring to support one of their own.
In West Africa corny jokes and anti-Anglophone propaganda was taught by the colonialist to create more distrust among Africans based on imaginary borders, sowing seeds of contempt against English-speaking nations. This is absolute indoctrination that puts North Korea to shame.
Even in countries where the two communities cohabit, as in Cameroon, their divergent political ideologies and preferences are noticeable and have caused explosive tensions and the subjugation of the English-speaking minority in southern Cameroon, whose protests against a system of forced assimilation into the francophone educational system were met with a violent crackdown by the Cameroonian army.
Cameroon have not been averse to risk war with Nigeria by crossing into Nigeria in search of fleeing anglophones at 3 am, shooting in the air and sending oanick striken villagers running into ths bush. Then warning the village head against housing seperstists and promising severe consequences if they house anglophone separatists, then casually strolling back across the border.
The second time it happened in August 2016 the Nigerian army this time deployed an artillery battalion to Calabar. Needless to say there has been no further provocation ever since.
What Francophone’s lack in economic power they try to make up for it via diplomatic/political and institutional leadership, augmented by military power.
Since the formation of the African Union, the French and Portuguese speaking Africans had an understanding where non of the big economies of the Anglosphere (Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana and South Africa ) should ever get the position of chair in almost every institution, from the AU, CAF to ADB, and they have been very successful in achieving that.
South Africa is the first anglophone country to temporarily break that protocol when they got Dlamini Zuma to be the chair of the AU.
With the new era of separatism spreading across the globe, it is yet to be seen whether the differences between anglophones and francophones will become a major divider of African people.