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'France must leave'. A huge banner from the movement led by Guy Sagna. Photo supplied

French fuel debacle spills over to Senegal

The recent events at the French embassy in Burkina Faso were yet another demonstration against France on the African continent after France was ousted from Mali. All it took was a rumour to attract the sympathy of the population and demonstrators to head to the French Embassy.

Published: October 16, 2022, 7:25 am

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    Many reactions have been heard in favor of legitimising and approving the movement to kick out the “colonizers”.

    In the wake of the Burkina episode, it was in Senegal that Guy Marius Sagna, focused on French fuel coupons. The leader of Frapp-France dégage, an anti-imperialist activist accustomed to stays in prison, was appointed as technical adviser by the new mayor of Dakar, Barthélémy Dias. Sagna has decried “the monetary occupation of our countries by France through the CFA Franc”.

    President Macky Sall’s credibility has meanwhile been dented by the fallout from a BBC programme aired in June 2019 that alleged corrupt payments in the oil sector involving his brother. Setbacks have left Sall with a razor-thin majority, while he faces an outcry over a suspected third-term bid.

    Subsidiary legislation relating to local content in the nascent hydrocarbons industry was not ultimately a vote-winning measure ahead of the legislative election in July 2022. Senegal has set an ultimate target of 50 percent local content by 2030.

    Asking France to leave Senegal

    Many Senegalese have applauded Guy Sagna’s actions, no doubt in good faith, in defending their country, stating that a “plundering” was being orchestrated by France.

    The activist now turned MP, has refused the fuel voucher from Total or Shell. According to him, the National Assembly has favoured private companies to the detriment of local people. “I am in the National Assembly and the National Assembly wants to give me my fuel allocation as follows: 400 litres of fuel to be taken from Total or Shell; 100 litres of fuel to be taken from Elton.

    “I can’t take the 100 litres and leave the 400 litres. You have to take the whole package. I refused to take my fuel because I refuse to support Total or Shell by leaving out Elton. I want my 500 litres of fuel exclusively to support Africans in Senegal.

    “No wonder Senegal and Africa are the last of the last with foreign preference instead of national preference. No wonder young Senegalese are unemployed. A Senegal and an Africa that has created a paradise for France and other imperialists by digging their own grave, the grave of their children: it’s over!”

    The French state collects 440 billion euros in taxes from its former colonies every year. France relies on the revenue to avoid sinking into economic insignificance, former President Jacques Chirac had warned in 2008.

    The problem for France however is thousands of Senegalese in France. Their contribution to Senegal’s national wealth via remittances is estimated at more than 1 600 billion CFA francs per year, or 10 percent of GDP, and 60 percent of the total comes from France, which is considerable.

    Guy Sagna has been stigmatising a company legally established in Senegal and which employs Senegalese with dividends that are distributed to the shareholders, and the added value belongs to Senegal, whatever the nationality of the shareholders, French pundits say. Many French have argued that in this context of globalisation, GDP is a more relevant indicator than GNP or GNI.

    Pro-French voices argue that states compete with each other in their ingenuity to attract foreign capital, while in Senegal Sagna’s supporters threaten “boycotts and plundering”.

    Denouncing CFAs

    In particular, Sagna has denounced Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) as instruments of the IMF and World Bank. “EPAs  are economic agreements that are being negotiated between the European Union (EU) and the Africa Caribbean Pacific (ACP) states. These agreements are diverse because the EU chose to split these countries into sub-regions like East Africa or Southern Africa. In West Africa, the EU’s objective is to export 70 percent of its goods tariff-free, which will deprive West African states of customs revenues.”

    He explained that these deals have been preceded by the IMF and the World Bank’s structural adjustment programmes that imposed liberalising African economies and opening their markets. “It’s part of an international labour division scheme that makes our ‘underdeveloped’ countries consumers of goods from other countries whose role is to produce those goods. The EPA reinforces this process, which will impoverish our countries even more.”

    Senegal will lose 75 billion CFA Francs per year in the first 20 years of the agreement, and from then on, 240 billion CFA Francs annually. According to Sagna, this has been contributing to mass immigration. “Removing tariffs for European goods in West Africa is a hidden subsidy to European corporations.”

    And Sagna is not about to betray his constituents, and has remained true to himself in what some have described “his sick monomania against France”.

    Blaming Russia and China

    “Some of them do not hide their sympathy for Putin who, according to them, resists the West, the society that welcomed them,” complained opinion writer Mouhamed Camara.

    “Let’s be clear, this is not to say that the relationship between France and its former colonies is irreproachable, far from it. But is this hatred justified and, above all, who benefits from it? In this tense geopolitical context and trade war, should we not ask ourselves who benefits from all this? Is the increasing presence of the Chinese and Russians pure coincidence?”

    Some politicians declare that if they were elected, they would call into question certain agreements with France.

    Camara added: “It is also urgent that France calls itself into question both in the integration of its sons and daughters of immigrants.”

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