A summit of French-speaking nations is taking place in Djerba island this weekend, with 30 leaders focused on economic cooperation in an event seen as a success for Tunisia.
While the two-day summit is officially focusing on “digital as a vector of development”, it is also be an opportunity for Western and African leaders to discuss topics such as the Russian-Ukrainian war, where there is a gap on positions.
Some African nations have criticized what they believe to be a lack of international solidarity with the continent in the face of its own crises, noting that Europe was able to rapidly mobilize to assist Ukraine.
This 18th summit of the International Organization of La Francophonie (OIF) on the island of Djerba will also be an occasion to celebrate the 50th anniversary of an organization founded in 1970 with 88 members, not all of whom are French-speaking, including Armenia, Egypt, Moldova, the United Arab Emirates, and Serbia.
The summit coincides with the last part of the COP27 climate conference in Egypt and follows a G20 meeting in Indonesia that was dominated by the conflict in Ukraine, an OIF observer nation.
There are a total of 89 delegations, seven international organizations, and over thirty leaders in attendance, including French President Emmanuel Macron, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, European Council President Charles Michel, and Senegalese leader Macky Sall.
The re-election of the Secretary General of the OIF — Louise Mushikiwabo from Rwanda was the sole candidate — is also on the agenda for the two days of meetings between representatives of a region with 321 million French speakers, a number that will more than double to 750 million by 2050 as a result of demographic trends in Africa.
According to a Canadian official, a major player in the Francophone world, the organization “can be a beneficial factor” with regard to topics such as “peace, economic success, and the consolidation of democracy.”