French President Emmanuel Macron spent formative months as an intern at the French embassy in Abuja. Now, he wants to better connect French companies into the vast economy that is Nigeria.
His plan blends old-fashioned economic diplomacy with a wider goal of ‘fixing’ the oft-fraught relationship between France and its former colonies; through restitution of looted artworks, the Africa2020 cultural season, and a France-Africa summit in Montpellier on 8 October that will put young people – not aged political leaders – in the spotlight.
No, this was not a GPS error. To mark the end of France’s Africa2020 cultural season, Lagos was the guest of honour on 30 September.
The yellow danfo – a popular taxi bus in Nigeria – that was parked in the courtyard of the Elysée Palace was an installation piece by Nigerian artist Emeka Ogboh. It came complete with a soundscape of taxi touts yelling their destinations from speakers hidden around the grounds.
The Nigerian delegation was of economic heavyweights: Aliko Dangote, Abdul Samad Rabiu (chairman of BUA Group), Tony Elumelu (UBA chairman), Herbert Wigwe (MD of Access Bank) and Mike Adenuga (Globacom chairman).
The party was completed by Gilbert Chagoury, a Lagos property tycoon, whose Gilbert and Rose-Marie Chagoury Foundation was the chief fundraiser for the Africa2020 season.