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Cablegate: Small Is Beautiful? France's "Co-Development"

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

171102Z Oct 05





E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: Small is Beautiful? France's "Co-Development"
Program Showing Signs of Success


1. (SBU) SUMMARY. After 20 years, the MFA's "Co-
Development" Program has finally started to bear fruit.
France's co-development program seeks to benefit both France
and countries from which many of France's illegal migrants
come by helping potential and actual migrants create their
own small businesses in their countries of origin. The MFA
sees this program as a useful tool in combating clandestine
immigration and in helping to fight poverty in developing
countries. END SUMMARY.

2. (SBU) Econ Couns and intern recently called on Christian
Connan, Ambassador in Charge of "Co-Development," to learn
more about this small but increasingly successful
development program. The challenge of immigration has
proven to be a divisive and complicated issue in France.
In 2002, the total number of immigrants that had entered
French territory was estimated at over 3.3 million, and over
45% of these immigrants have come from the Magreb or French-
speaking Africa.

3. (SBU) Amb. Connan explained that France's Co-Development
Program has had a long history, with more failures than
successes. First started by the Socialist Government in the
1980's, it was a project with a political goal designed to
forge partnerships in the developing world and as a means to
counter the "U.S.'s capitalist influence," Connan said
wryly. He explained that the program evolved in the 90's
under the then-Interior Minister, Jean-Pierre Chevnement,
to become a tool to attempt to control immigration flows
into France, but again it delivered mixed results at best.

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4. (SBU) In 2002, the MFA took over the program and altered
it by creating the position of `Ambassador-Delegate' for Co-
Development and re-casting (and selling to parliament) the
program as a development policy with incidental immigration
benefits. The program now appears to be making an impact,
even if only on a small-scale. In Mali, the example with
which Connan was most familiar, the program has been in
place for three years and is beginning to create employment
and an "entrepreneurial culture."

5. (SBU) Outlining some details of the program in Mali,
Connan explained that the GOF Co-Development Program
operates in three ways:
-- it aides immigrants to return to Mali with small budgets
to realize small-scale projects (ie: cultivating several
hectares of land they may own, opening up a small business,
-- it encourages investment in Mali by ethnic Malians
resident in France by helping them target their remittances
toward programs and enterprises that train and educate
Malian citizens;
-- and it sends qualified Malians resident in France, such
as doctors, researchers and businessmen, back to Mali to
take part in temporary aid projects with a focus on capacity

Connan reported that approximately 350 Malians have returned
to their country. Those individuals have in turn created an
additional 350 jobs. With a failure rate of only 10% and
creation of 700 net jobs, the MFA considers the Mali program
quite successful, Connan explained. He added that results
in other countries in which the program has been operating
have been similarly successful.

6. (SBU) The Co-Development program will continue to expand
in 2005 with operations planned in Senegal, the Comoros,
Ethiopia, several Sub-Saharan Francophone African nations,
and Haiti. In 2005, the MFA spent around 2 million euros on
this program and in 2006, spending will increase to 6
million euros.

7. (SBU) An interesting idea with multiple benefits, the Co-
Development Program still causes some controversy. The
explicit goal of encouraging migrants to return to their
homeland and the targeting of certain nationalities that
will "benefit" from the program, sits uncomfortably in some
quarters. However, the emphasis on investment and enhancing
the value of human resources is an innovative and
potentially effective way of promoting development in the
poorest countries, while also dealing - albeit in a small
way -- with the sensitive issue of immigration. This is an
interesting alternative to France's larger-scale development
programs. It will be interesting to see whether the results
obtained over the past three years continue and can be
replicated more broadly.


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