Africa-France Summit: Focus on sustainable cities and territories in June 2020

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Africa-France Summit: Focus on sustainable cities and territories in June 2020©alarico/Shutterstock

The 28th Africa-France Summit will take place from June 4 to 6, 2020 in Bordeaux and will be an unmissable political, economic and cultural event. At the heart of the Summit: the City of Solutions, a trade show designed as a city where solutions for sustainable cities and territories will be presented. It is an important topic on a continent facing huge challenges such as rapid population growth, energy transition, access to drinking water and sanitation...

Today’s African cities face many challenges. These include access to electricity, drinking water, sanitation services, education, employment, mobility and access to roads, sports and socio-cultural infrastructure. These different themes will be discussed at the 28th Africa-France Summit to be held in Bordeaux, in south-western France, from June 4 to 6, 2020.

The triennial meeting brings together African countries and France, either in a country on the continent or in metropolitan France. The aim of this pioneering Summit is to combine political vision with the action of economic operators. The event, dedicated to actors involved in changing the world, will bring together project leaders from civil society, businesses and committed institutions who will present concrete solutions for sustainable cities and territories. “The theme is relevant because the sustainable city is the goal of sustainable development No. 11 and it applies to all of us. President Emmanuel Macron typed right in the face of the challenge of urbanisation in Africa. It is a huge issue for which we have solutions. And I don’t mind saying that it is also a theme that is good for France, relevant for Africans and for which we have partnership solutions,” explained Stéphanie Rivoal, Ambassador and Secretary General of the Africa-France 2020 Summit.

Preparing for the summit

As part of the preparations for the event, Stéphanie Rivoal began an African tour that took her to Cameroon on the 2nd of March 2020 where she met the authorities. With the Cameroonian Minister of Economy, Planning and Land Management, Alamine Ousmane Mey, the ambassador of the 28th Africa-France Summit discussed the economic opportunities that the event holds.

“The Africa-France 2020 Summit has a new format. There will be a summit, with a trade fair in which project leaders, city dwellers (…) but also industrialists who provide solutions and financiers will mix. Without funding, these projects cannot be carried out. We are going to invite private banks, financial backers and foundations so that altogether they can find solutions for more sustainable cities and territories, whether in France or in Africa”, explains Stéphanie Rivoal.

The ambassador carried out the same explanatory mission in Ivory Coast. Still as part of the preparations for the Bordeaux summit, the “Abidjan Meetings on African Cities” were held from the 27th to the 28th of February 2020. This event, chaired by the Prime Minister of Ivory Coast, Amadou Gon Coulibaly, brought together civil society, experts, businesses and political leaders from 30 African countries around the issue of sustainable cities.

The “Abidjan Declaration on Sustainable Cities” was born out of this meeting, the aim being to give concrete expression to the commitment of cities and territories and to call on governments to develop, “urban policies for the emergence of cities that are both sustainable and intelligent”. The Abidjan meeting is already preparing decision makers to make better use of the Africa-France 2020 Summit.

The June Summit will bring together 54 African Heads of State and Government and the French Government. A number of French and African businesses, financial institutions and civil society organizations and members will also take part in this exceptional meeting to work together and propose solutions to common problems in order to give meaning to this committed and forward-looking summit.

The course of the event

The City of Solutions for sustainable cities and territories

The City of Solutions will be the main novelty and the real attraction of the Africa-France 2020 Summit. It is a specialised exhibition dedicated to projects and solutions for sustainable cities and territories. It will be held at the Bordeaux Exhibition Centre and will bring together 500 African and French companies and organisations who will exhibit “their know-how, concrete solutions and visions concerning the issues of habitat, energy, mobility, health, education, financing, study, security, resources, agriculture, sport…”.

The companies will be divided into seven thematic sectors.

  • “Feeding Cities”: this district will bring together businesses offering sustainable solutions in agriculture, agri-food supply, trade and catering;
  • Architects, who are building the African city of tomorrow, will meet in the “Planning and beautifying the city” district. The architects, who are building the African city of the future, will meet in the district “Planning and embellishing the city”. This district will concentrate solutions for the construction of buildings, urban furniture and the development of green spaces;
  • One of the most important districts is entitled “Access to essential services”, including renewable energy, energy efficiency, security, risk management and vulnerable populations;
  • The “Living in the City” district will present solutions for housing, health, education, training, culture and leisure and civil society;
  • Transport solutions will be presented in the “Getting around in the city/visiting the city” district to present the main issues and providers of transport, mobility, access and sustainable tourism infrastructure;
  • The African city of tomorrow will be more connected, hence the importance of the “Connect the city” area where companies will offer innovative digital solutions.
  • The “Financing and structuring projects” district will host international financial institutions, donors, foundations, banks and investment funds, consulting firms, insurance companies and lawyers, etc. The “Connecting the city” district will be a place where companies will offer innovative digital solutions.

The Challenge of 1,000 was launched, as part of the 28th Africa-France Summit. It is a joint initiative of Digital Africa and the Summit. In concrete terms, the French government intends to invite 1,000 African entrepreneurs to Bordeaux. They will come to present their innovations at the City of Solutions. The selection concerns African entrepreneurs with an activity related to one of the seven districts of the City of Solutions. The entrepreneur registered on the Digital Africa platform must also be “the bearer of an innovative or duplicable solution, at lower cost and with a strong impact to make French and African cities more sustainable from an environmental and social point of view”. The winners of the challenge will be revealed soon.

The various neighbourhoods will promote meetings between businesses, sustainable development project holders and financial institutions. The event receives the support of several financial institutions active on sustainable development issues in Africa. This is the case of the French Development Agency (AFD) and its subsidiary Proparco dedicated to financing the private sector.

Major groups are supporting the Bordeaux Summit. These include Veolia, Eranove and Suez, for example, which are investing in water and waste management in Africa. The giant Electricité de France (EDF), the Bolloré group, Meridiam, Vivendi and Fidal are already partners of the 28th Africa-France Summit. Car manufacturers such as Citroën and Iveco Bus are also on board.

Political, economic, but also festive and cultural, the summit will also host a football match and a major concert to be held in Bordeaux. A sort of awakening of the senses as a prelude to the Africa 2020 cultural season, organised by the French Institute, dedicated to the 54 African countries and their diasporas and which will run from June to December 2020.

Jean Marie Takouleu


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