On May 30 and 31, 2022, the Forum “Nouvelles d’Afrique “Réagir et s’unir” was held in Montpellier, co-organised by the Prospective and Innovation Foundation, chaired by Jean-Pierre Raffarin, Montpellier Méditerranée Métropole, the City of Montpellier, and the Foundation for studies and Research on International Development (FERDI). The Bridge Tank joined in the discussions through its chairman Joël Ruet, who participated in a session on the financing of agriculture.
The African continent is currently facing major challenges: rivalries between major powers and intra-continental divisions, economic and financial turbulences, the challenge of the ecological transition and its financing, and the need to make up for lost ground in agriculture and achieve food self-sufficiency. It is against this backdrop that the Forum sought to contribute to a process of global action and collaboration around Africa’s major projects, mobilising African and European expertise.
On 31 May, Day 2 of the Forum, Joël Ruet, Chairman of The Bridge Tank, took part in a round table discussion entitled “Financing agriculture in the face of the dual urgency of producing and protecting the environment”, moderated by Jean-Marc Gravellini, former Director at the French Development Agency (AFD) and Senior Fellow at FERDI.
Participants to the roundtable discussion included :
- Pierre ARNAUD, Former Director at AFD, former Vice-Chairman of Compagnie Fruitière;
- Joël RUET, Chairman, The Bridge Tank, former Special Advisor to the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Equipment in Senegal;
- Patrick CARON, Vice-President for International Relations at the University of Montpellier, President of Agropolis International;
- Francis DOSSOU SOGNON, CEO of AgroSfer.
During the session, Joël Ruet noted that “a large part of the African continent is now taking the lead on climate change adaptation issues”. For this to happen, it is essential to understand and integrate the dynamics of the African financial system, an idea developed by The Bridge Tank in an issue brief published a year earlier on financing the African economy.
During an earlier session on the economic challenges of the green transition in Africa, Hervé Machenaud, former Director of the Asia-Pacific branch of the EDF Group, said that the African continent should not be in “energy transition” but in “green development.” Addressing the issues of energy and agriculture, Mr Machenaud insisted on the considerable potential of renewable energy in Africa, adding however that agriculture in Africa will require controllable energy, with rationalised and optimised fossil fuels being part of the solution. In both these areas, Europe stands to gain from transferring its technologies to Africa, because technology develops in developing markets.