Promotion of Trade between the Republic of Cabo Verde and the Francophone Countries of Africa: What Role can the French Language play?"

Les francophones dans le mondeAs part of the Colloquium on «Teaching French as a vector of economic development and   regional integration», initiated by the University of Cabo Verde (Uni-CV) in partnership with the French Embassy in the Republic of Cabo Verde, ​​the Director General of the West African Institute (WAI) held on March 20th, at Uni-CV a conference entitled «Promotion of Trade between the Republic of Cabo Verde and the Francophone Countries of Africa: What role can the French language play?»

The Colloquium was organized in the frame of the celebration of the month of Francophonie und placed under the auspices of the Ministry of Education, Family, Social Inclusion, Higher Education and Science.

First of all, Prof. Djénéba Traoré explained that the choice of the theme was guided by her will to highlight the strong existing ties between language as a key element of culture and the political and commercial sectors.


The plan of the presentation was as follows:

I. Francophonie: Birth and evolution of the concept

II. Genesis and impact of «Les Lumières» in the world

III. Basic rules for the conquest of markets

IV. Opportunities offered by the French-speaking region for the development of trade between Cabo Verde and the French-speaking countries of Africa, mainly in the Member States of the ECOWAS region.

The Director General of WAI first made an historical reminder of the birth of the concept of «Francophonie» at the end of the 19th century. The term was then used to describe "the group of people and countries using the French language" and was the source of the awareness of the existence of a shared linguistic space conducive to exchanges and mutual enrichment.

In 1926, the Association of French-speaking Writers, l'Association des Ecrivains de Langue Française (Adelf) was born, followed by the creation in 1950 of the International Union of French-Speaking Journalists and Press (now Union de la Presse Francophone).

1955 recorded the birth of the Francophone Public Radio Community with Radio France, Radio Suisse Romande, Radio Canada and Radio Belge Francophone. (Joint programs simultaneously broacasted on member radio stations, thus contributing to the strengthening of the Francophone movement throughout the world).

The first Francophone intergovernmental institution was set up in 1960 with the Conférence des Ministres de l’Education (Confemen) , which now includes 41 member States and governments (orientations in education and training for development.

In 1961 the Association of universities partially or entirely of French language is created. It will become in 1999 the Agence universitaire de la Francophonie (AUF). The AUF now counts 677 higher education and research institutions in 81 countries. It is one of the specialized operators of La Francophonie. 


Other meaningful steps are:

1967: Creation of the Parliamentary Assembly of La Francophonie Assemblée Parlementaire de la Francophonie (APF).

1969: The Conference of Ministers of Youth and Sports Conférence des ministres de la Jeunesse et des Sports (Conféjes) is founded. It forms with Confemen, the second permanent ministerial conference of La Francophonie.

The idea of ​​setting up a Francophone intergovernmental institution was launched in 1970 in Niamey by the Parliamentary Assembly of La Francophonie at the Second Conference of the Agency for Cultural and Technical Cooperation Agence de coopération culturelle et technique (ACCT), now the International Organization of La Francophonie Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie (OIF), to which APF has become an integrated institution. 

With the holding of its Summits since 1986, La Francophonie increased its role on the international arena. This role is highlighted by the creation of the post of Secretary General, one of the major decisions of the Cotonou Summit (1995, Benin).

In the course of the Summits, the political field (peace, democracy and human rights), sustainable development, digital economy and technologies have been added to culture and education, the basic areas of Francophone cooperation. It has to be noticed on this last point that in 2000, the use of the English on the web pages was estimated at 60%. However, the percentage decreases, since it was 78% in 1998. The part of French has meanwhile significantly increased, from 2.81% to 4.39%.

The Institute for Energy and Environment of La Francophonie was founded in Quebec City in 1988 and an Institute of New Information and Training Technologies with a Fund for Highways Information replaces the Ecole Internationale de Bordeaux in 1998.

In 2000 in Mali, the «Bamako Declaration», the first normative text of La Francophonie on the practices of democracy, rights and freedoms, was adopted (binding powers for the respect of common democratic values).1987 witnessed the birth of the «Jeux de la Francophonie». Organized every four years, the event takes the youth into account, which represents a significant segment of the Francophone population, as does the Francophone Conference of International Non-Governmental Organizations, which brings together international non-governmental organizations and other civil society organizations, Intervening in the various fields of activity of la Francophonie.

To better understand the impact of the French language throughout the world, Prof. Traoré made a historical reminder of the Sciècle des Lumières (from 1715 (death of the Sun King, Louis XIV to 1799 with the coup d'Etat of 18 Brumaire by Napoleon Bonaparte putting an end to the French Revolution) and the period before.

An important philosophical and literary trend with poets like François Villon, fabulists like Jean de la Fontaine, writers who used farces and impertinence like Rabelais and philosophs like Montaigne and Descartes.

Since ignorance is the first instrument of enslavement, it is obvious that knowledge breaks the chains of despotism and obscurantism. To spread knowledge, d'Alembert, Diderot and d'Holbach will produce the Encyclopaedia. Montesquieu, Voltaire and Rousseau developed the principles of equality for all human beings regarding the law (slavery was abolished by the French Revolution and then restored by Napoleon! under the Empire), demanded the abolition of the privileges enjoyed by the nobility and advocate for an education closer to nature.

Voltaire also believed that it is necessary to enlighten the opinion of the public and put erudition and writing at the service of justice. He published his «Dictionnaire philosophique». It is through the spread of knowledge that Les Lumières engaged the most amazing battle of ideas in the history of humanity.

In Germany, Les Lumières were called «Aufklärung», followed by the literary movement «Sturm und Drang», whose undisputed masters were Johann Christoph Gottsched, Gotthold Ephraim Lessing, Johann Gottfried von Herder, Johann Wolgang von Goethe and Johann Christoph Friedrich von Schiller. They will devote their entire lives to this literary and philosophic movement, revolutionize mindsets and positively transform the German society. They will, however, consider that the French revolution led by Maximilian de Robespierre, and which gave rise to the establishment of the Terror and the Cult of the Superior Being, has not reached its objectives. Thus, Germany will only experience a short-lived literary revolution (Sturm und Drang) and not a social revolution, as it has been the case in France, with a strong symbol of the capture of the Bastille on 14 July 1789 and decapitation of King Louis XVI on January 21, 1793, followed by that of Queen Marie Antoinette, on October 16 of the same year.

In Italy one speaks of «Un secolo illuminato», in Spain, of «Siglo de las luces» and in England of «Enlightenment» or «Age of reason».

The ideals conveyed by Les Lumières surpassed the European continent very early, crossed the Atlantic Ocean and contributed to the outbreak of the War of Independence in North America in which Gilbert du Motier de La Fayette participated and gained a great fame. On July 4, 1776, the representatives of the 13 colonies gathered in Philadelphia adopted the Declaration of Independence.

 According to Raoul Marc Jennar, Les Lumières were crucial for the advent of critical thinking, voluntarism, freedom, equality, tolerance, democracy and human universality.

Turning to the third point of her presentation, the Director General of WAI presented some basic rules for the conquest of markets, namely a perfect knowledge and control of the company, good mastering and knowledge of the customers; good knowledge and control of competitiveness; development of a good marketing policy for products / services;  a good management, sales, skilled workforce and skilled employees; a good policy and strategy in public relations; understanding cultural differences; recruitment of immigrants; participation in business delegations; option of the right representation, and ensuring and maintaining good cost-effectiveness.

Turning to the fourth and final point of her presentation, Prof. Djénéba Traoré attempted to show the opportunities offered by the French language and the OIF for the development of trade between Cabo Verde and the Francophone countries of Africa, mainly at the level of ECOWAS member States.

Africa encompasses 21 Francophone States in the Sub-Saharan region and 5 in the Maghreb countries where French is commonly spoken. It should be emphasized here that the whole African continent represents only 2.2% of the world's exports and that most of the exports concern raw materials.

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), intergovernmental organization established on 28 May 1975, is the main structure for coordinating the actions of the countries of West Africa. Its aim is to promote cooperation and integration with the objective of creating a West African economic and monetary union. ECOWAS is a space of civilization forged by a millennial history. According to IMF, the overall GDP of the ECOWAS member States is 564.86 billion dollars, placing it the 25th largest economic power in the world. Morocco's accession to ECOWAS would certainly make considerable progress. The Francophone countries of ECOWAS are Burkina Faso, Benin, Ivory Coast, Guinea Conakry, Mali, Niger, Senegal and Togo. 


Pays Membres CEDEAOECOWAS is a region whose economic potential is enormous, but largely underexploited.

Countries with contrasting economic and demographic resources cohabit. While Nigeria, by virtue of its demographic resources (55% of the region's population) and its economic potential (48% of regional GDP), is the economic engine of the country's income.

The highest per capita goes to the Cabo Verde with 4000 US $ In short, West Africa represents immense opportunities for trade between Member States, facilitated by the free movement of people and goods. To this end, the application of the Common External Tariff (CET) and the reduction of customs barriers represent Considerable assets.

In conclusion, the Director General of WAI emphasized that the history of the French language demonstrates how essential this medium is in order to convey ideas, convey knowledge, transform societies and bring change in historical processes such as the establishment of a democratic culture. Finally, Prof. Traoré called the students to use their intellectual capacities, in order to create innovative jobs in a world of globalization focused on competitiveness and where the unemployment of undergraduate, graduate and postgraduate young people is currently one of the biggest challenges to rise.

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