Debate ahead of the Africa–France Summit | Historical inequalities and economic transformation in South Africa

To be hosted by the French embassy in South Africa and ACEIR, this online event is one of a series of debates across the continent that are directed by philosopher and historian, Prof. Achille Mbembe, at the request of the President of France. Proposals that emerge out of the debates will be summarised by Prof. Mbembe to feed into one of the highlights of the forthcoming Africa–France Summit in October, when President Emmanuel Macron will host a discussion with youth representatives from Africa, France and the diaspora. Four debates are taking place in South Africa, focusing on culture and arts, gender equality, geopolitical issues and economics. The ACEIR-partnered event will focus on the latter, and specifically on inequalities. These inequalities are a major issue in South Africa and of great concern in all African contexts as they severely constrain the life possibilities for Africa’s youth. This situation has worsened due to the Covid-19 crisis. 

The details

Contrary to the usual practice, the 28th Africa–France Summit will not gather heads of states. Instead, this summit will be largely devoted to African youth and entrepreneurship. As such, it will put the younger generation centre stage in taking a fresh look at the relationship between Africa and France. The event will be held in Montpellier, France, in October 2021, and a highlight will be President Emmanuel Macron’s discussion with youth representatives from Africa, France, and the diaspora to exchange “freely and without taboos”.

To feed into the discussion with the French President, philosopher and historian Prof. Achille Mbembe (University of the Witwatersrand) was asked to direct a series of debates across Africa and to identify and summarise operational proposals emerging from these debates.

ACEIR is co-hosting with the French embassy in South Africa one of the four debates to take place in the country, focusing on inequalities, which are severely constraining the life possibilities for South Africa and Africa’s youth. 

The purpose of the event is to provide stakeholders with an opportunity to share their perspectives on South Africa’s inequalities and to motivate for priority action areas and policies in overcoming these inequalities. The aim is to reach and involve as many young people as possible

Proposals emerging out of the discussions will be taken to the Summit event between President Macron and youth representatives and may contribute to reshaping the relationship between Africa and France.

Panellists will reflect on the effectiveness of public policies implemented in South Africa to eliminate historical inequalities and improve social mobility, with a particular focus on the productive assets of: 

  1. Labour: to assess progress in equalising education since 1994, given the current state of the education system and the labour market.

  2. Financial capital: to assess both progress in transforming the finance sector, through Broad-based Black Economics Empowerment, and access to finance for all South Africans.

Speakers include high-profile business leaders, a prominent student activist, academics and the head of South Africa’s Youth Employment Service. 


Thu, 20 May 2021 - 

09:30 to 12:00 

This article was sourced from ACEIR.