Why does France have military bases in Africa?
A growing number of protests have been raised against France’s presence in Africa, where it has previously flexed its military muscles. At least 30 French direct military interventions occurred between 1964 and 1995 as a result of independence-era deals that led to the expulsion of French troops from Niger and Mali. Dr Bakary Sambe, director of the Timbuktu Institute, explains that France has sought to “perpetuate and safeguard the stability and durability of certain regimes” since independence.
According to him, the former colonial power considered West Africa and the Sahel a “space of natural deployment and influence”.
According to Prof Bruno Charbonneau, an expert on peace and conflict interventions in West Africa at Canada’s Royal Military College of Saint-Jean
The French military presence in Africa has also enabled France to play a major role in conflict resolution and management mechanisms in French-speaking Africa, particularly at the UN Security Council.
France has been able to project and protect its own interests by providing military support to friendly African regimes, he adds.
France’s defense ministry says its primary mission in Gabon is to train soldiers and enhance their capabilities to combat terror, protect land borders, and protect maritime territory. It involves peacekeeping, intelligence, and logistics.
France, the UK, and the US set up the Reinforcement of African Peacekeeping Capacities (Recamp) programme in the late 1990s.
In Senegal, it oversees training for all 15 members of the West African regional bloc, Ecowas, as well as neighbouring Mauritania.