Fifty Years of Françafrique
This year makes 50 since France granted independence to its African colonies. On the whole, the moment has inspired little fanfare, perhaps because there is precious little to celebrate. If you were born in an African country, and the country you were born in happens to have once been a French colony, you are significantly less likely than your counterparts in anglophone Africa to reach your first birthday. If you do, you are less likely to go to school or learn how to read, and the country you live in is, on average, poorer and less democratic. The Internet revolution, shallow though it still may be, is being absorbed by your anglophone brothers at an exponentially faster rate, who also enjoy both higher initial stocks as well as well as faster expansion rates of telecommunications infrastructure like fixed telephone lines and mobile phones, as well as physical infrastructure like roads, electricity and rail.
Fifty years after independence, in just about every measure of human well-being and progress, there is clear evidence for a ‘francophone effect.’ Less clear is why.