There are various stories in the internet about how France gets billions from its former colonies. These figures are often inconsistent. Does France benefit from its former colonies?

3 Answers 3


This is a good example of an article making France responsible for the misery of an entire continent. While France still has some influence in the region, when it comes to African dictators, it is not really an evil puppetmaster. It lacks the power and the will. France acts more like a pragmatic businessman and sometimes endorses a cop role if necessary. The forces it deploys are usually enough to help ensure some security, but not to control entire countries.

The intervention in Mali was backed by the UN, the new president, and even some Touareg rebels. No one really wanted to see an Islamic state in the Sahara desert. Not states, not companies, not Malian people, and at the end not even the Touaregs who started as allies of jihadists .

The intervention in Ivory Coast against Gbagbo was also backed by the UN and the new, freshly elected president. Mr Gbagbo positioning himself as a victim of a French plot looks more like a strategy for his trial at the ICC, since he did not have any particular problems before that.

The French government also sometimes gets blamed when it does not act, or only utters some critics. It was the case in the last Gabonese election of 2016. Here is a call for action by Gabonese activists to the French president.

As for "France has trained thousands of dormant traitors". France is often blamed when there are rebels somewhere. The rebels are usually backed by another African dictator in power for years. A good example is Blaise Compaore (the link in French explains how he backed rebels in both Mali and Ivory Coast). Another is Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz and his dealings with al Qaeda.

When it comes to the dealings of French companies, or to the 70s, or to groups of colons being asses when told to leave, it may be different (I was not even born, so I do not risk going into this).

Additional source : Bruno Jaffre, huge fan of Thomas Sankara and author of one of his biographies, is one of my colleagues. His opinion may influence mine. He really despises Compaore, and hated all the successive French governments for getting along with him.

  • 2
    That is the best answer to this question so far (the three others are ridiculous). But it certainly minimize the meddling of France in Africa. In Ivory Coast, for instance, your presentation is biased. France did not support the "freshly elected president". Rather, in a very contested election with massive accusations of fraud of both side, French supported, with its army, the victory claim of one of the candidate against the other (Gbagbo). The fact that the UN supported French intervention is worth mentioning, but honestly it means nothing about who really won the election.
    – Joël
    Commented Feb 24, 2017 at 14:09
  • @Joël I know. The people from ivory coast I know say no one will ever know who won this election. France was ready to support whoever the "official" winner was in order to stop the rampant civil war and continue business as usual. Commented Feb 24, 2017 at 14:58

There is no colonial tax like the article you provided suggested, but there seem to be sanctions against some countries. I'm no expert, so I won't expand on this.

The confusion there is between a possible colonial tax and money transfer probably comes from an agreement between France and 14 former colonies revolving around the use of the CFA franc and the Comorian franc:

  • France guarantees the unlimited conversion of both those currencies into any foreign currency ;
  • The conversion between the french currency and those two currencies are fixed ;
  • Interior money transfer of the common currency zone ;
  • In return of these three principles, 50% of the CFA franc reserves and 65% of the Comorian ones are stored in Paris.

There are pros (like monetary stability) and cons (like over-evaluation of the currency). There is also a supervision by the European Union


I know that the french article could be considered as biased, so any help to make this answer more objective and thorough is welcome.

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    I know my answer isn't perfect so if you downvote, please take the time to explain why.
    – SdaliM
    Commented Feb 23, 2017 at 16:51

These figures are often inconsistent.

Because those figures are estimates. As estimates go, they vary , and often times wildly.

Does France benefit from its former colonies

Unless lots of counter claims exist, your survey would suggest "yes".

Think about it this way: what might have motivated the french expeditions, and subsequent colonization? Their love for the native people?

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    your last sentence is conjecture at best. you have to show that former colonies create benefits now. saying that they created benefits at the time they were colonies has no linear connection to the current status.
    – Federico
    Commented Feb 23, 2017 at 14:09
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    I agree with what Federico said. I might add that the official story for colonization was a form of love to natives, as it was stated that the main goal was to bring education and more broadly civilization. (To be clear, I'm not saying it was the case or not)
    – SdaliM
    Commented Feb 23, 2017 at 14:40
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    > the main goal was to bring education and more broadly civilization. That shows you how gullible people were / are. Btw, I'm an ET transporting from 2 millions years in the future, :)
    – dannyf
    Commented Feb 23, 2017 at 15:02
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    I'm not saying it actually was the main goal, I said it was the "official story" and "it was stated". BTW, nice to see that time-travel works!
    – SdaliM
    Commented Feb 23, 2017 at 15:17
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    Understood. I wasn't suggesting that you said that. But merely pointing out the fact that someone would find it feasible to pull a fast one on the public with such a shady excuse. But if we look around now, the same thing happens around us everyday too. Democracy, WMD, freedom, persuit of happiness, human rights, ... The modern equivalents of the french "bringing education and civilization to the barbarians".
    – dannyf
    Commented Feb 23, 2017 at 15:26

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