“Do more and work better, together with developing

Director General for Globalisation, Culture, Education and International Development, French Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs

What expectations does the French Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs have for Expertise France?

Under the leadership of President Macron, France is pursuing an ambitious policy of inclusive development, which was initiated during his first term in office. Parliament adopted the Act on Inclusive Development and the Fight Against Global Inequalities of August 4, 2021. Since then, France has developed the ambition to “do more,” thanks to a significant increase in the resources allocated to our development policy; the ambition to “work better,” thanks to enhanced management of our operators, which of course include Expertise France; and finally an ambition to do all this “together with” developing countries and not just for them, by following a real partnership approach.

Our operators—especially AFD Group and its technical cooperation subsidiary, Expertise France—are working very hard to make this ambition a reality by helping to achieve our priority objectives: the eradication of all forms of poverty, the promotion of human rights, and the protection of global public goods.

The integration of Expertise France into AFD Group on January 1, 2022, has meant a reorganization of the French development system. This in turn has led to greater coherence and legibility enabling a better adapted and more effective response to our partners’ needs.

In particular, we have three major expectations from Expertise France. Firstly, thanks to its role in mobilizing French technical expertise, it should play a central role in our cooperation system. The agency and its teams build strong and regular links not only with French government ministries, but also with the entire French ecosystem providing expertise: public operators, local authorities, enterprises, and NGOs. These links enable our operator to build up a pool of experts, both women and men, which will need to be strengthened over the next few years to ensure the deployment of more specific, adapted and large-scale expertise.

Against a backdrop of multiple crises, Expertise France is a valuable tool at the service of the foreign and development policies of France and the European Union thanks to its great agility. Its flexibility has enabled us to position Expertise France in crisis areas such as the Sahel, Ukraine, and Syria. This responsiveness benefits all of Team France, and we’re counting on it continuing in the coming years.

Finally, Expertise France is invested with the responsibility to ensure an active French presence on the ground, by developing close dialog with beneficiaries. The experts deployed by Expertise France represent the face of France to our partners and contribute fully to the strengthening of human ties. Thanks to cooperation and peer exchanges of expertise, Expertise France must act as the linchpin of the partnership approach we’re promoting.

Can you say a few words about the International Technical Experts (ITEs) scheme, whose management the Ministry has entrusted to Expertise France since 2016?

At the Presidential Development Council meeting in December 2020, President Macron made a commitment to double the number of experts, to reach 300 ITEs by the end of 2023. Along with this quantified objective, we’ve set new geographical priorities, particularly in the Indo-Pacific region. We’ve also set thematic priorities, by broadening our fields of action to include the climate and environment, the economy, food security, gender equality, cultural and creative industries, and sports. Finally, we’ve stepped up our interaction with international organizations, which currently host a third of our experts.

Right now, nearly 200 experts provided by Expertise France are deployed to 104 countries on all the continents. That means we still have 100 experts to deploy to reach the target of 300. And all this is thanks to the efforts of Expertise France, which has been able to identify a wide variety of ITE profiles. They include specialists in all fields: space, vaccine production, climate finance, as well as hydrogen and artificial intelligence.

This ITE system will continue to develop. Efforts are now being made to make the deployment of experts more efficient and to ensure their coherence with Expertise France’s action on European and French projects. As we know, our partners have high expectations of France’s technical expertise, and we have to deliver.

The expansion in Expertise France’s activity is linked to France’s desire to strengthen its presence on the ground.

What role will Expertise France play within Team France in the field?

The increase in Expertise France’s activity is part of France’s desire to strengthen its presence on the ground in order to “renew stronger human ties,” to use the words of President Macron in his speech of February 27 on the partnership between Africa and France.

To achieve this, France is relying on a renewed system locally, in the target countries, following the adoption of the Act on Inclusive Development and the Animal pensant | 10, quai d’Austerlitz, bateau Playtime, 75013 Paris | 01 43 36 65 46 | www.animalpensant.com establishment of local development councils. Under the aegis of the ambassador, these local development councils bring together all French actors—that’s to say Team France—to strengthen the coherence and impact of our actions, always in connection with our partners.

We’re also hoping to take action on the ground as part of Team Europe. This is in particular the role entrusted to Team Europe initiatives, of which Expertise France is part. In line with the momentum created by the European “Global Gateway” strategy, these initiatives are bringing together Member States, the European Commission, the European Investment Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development to work on large-scale joint projects, in order to better link our initiatives on the ground. Expertise France’s continued European commitment will be crucial to strengthen the effectiveness and visibility of our action for all our partners.

Expertise France has useful and very valuable tools for this partnership approach: peer-to-peer exchanges, twinnings, capacity building for civil society organizations, and deployment of experts from the diaspora. All these tools are very important, and they make it possible for us to establish substantive discussions with our counterparts and partners, by bringing on board the ecosystem of local institutions and organizations, including, of course, civil society.

With all this in the background, we are pleased that Expertise France is now able to secure and bolster its activity on the ground, thanks to its integration into AFD Group, which allows it to benefit from agreements giving it legal status to operate in an increasing number of countries where AFD is already working actively. The ongoing decentralization and devolution of its activities will help boost this close dialog with our partners that we eagerly hope for.

Interview conducted in May 2023

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