Hassan Hachem: construction of the French Institute of Bata.

The African continent, long underestimated, could well become the China of tomorrow. Seen from Europe, this forecast may seem hazardous in a context where we hear more often about the wars ravaging some countries of the continent than growth rates of 7% or 8% of some countries. Yet, it is a reality: Africa is home to future emerging countries. This dynamism can be a real opportunity for France provided that it continues to promote the development of its historical ties with its African partners. One of the ways to maintain these links is to ensure that we continue to speak French in a large number of countries: Francophonie is one of the keys to the economic integration of emerging African countries with France.

We interviewed Hassan Hachem, one of the many discreet artisans of Francophonie.

Hassan Hachem is a Franco-Lebanese entrepreneur who has contributed to the dissemination of the Francophonie by pushing "francophile" projects several times.

He is at the origin of the French Cultural Center of Bata and the first French School of Malabo.

What is the history of the French Cultural Center of Bata?

It is a prestigious achievement. Some say it is one of the jewels of the francophone presence on the mainland of Equatorial Guinea. Since it opened in 2008, this center has been welcoming artists (musicians, storytellers, comedians ...), Francophone cultural personalities. The center also hosts tens of thousands of books in French (novels, school books, children's literature ...) made available to the general public.

A small school is located in the Cultural Center. It is managed by the French Secular Mission. It is frequented by the children of Equato-Guineans and expatriates.

Why learn French abroad?

The situation of each country is different. In Equatorial Guinea, this desire to promote French is directly linked to the desire to better integrate the country into the regional economic tissue of Francophone countries. Speaking French is not simply a gateway to knowledge, a springboard to French culture that continues to be a reference throughout the world, but also, in this case, a tool for economic integration.

Are Africans motivated to learn Chinese?

Yes and no: the relations between China and Africa are of a different nature. Africans appreciate two things about China. On the one hand, it treats them as equals or, in any case, claims to do so. On the other hand, it gives them access to consumer goods and equipment at much more competitive prices than those offered by Western companies.

But Africans are much less interested in Chinese culture than in French culture, and Mandarin is a much more difficult language to access. Also, de facto, the motivation of Africans to learn Chinese is weaker than that of learning or using French.