The first French for Business in Africa Forum
The forum French for business in Africa, held from 15 to 17 April 2015 in 3 cities in South Africa (Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town) gathered more than 350 people.
This marks a keen interest in the subject and reflects the will of South Africans, including the private sector, to open up to Francophone African countries. Any follow-up to the forum will take this dimension into account, and we will seek to build bridges between South Africa and Francophone countries in Africa, with emphasis on the place of the French language in this process.
Objectives and challenges:
- In the short term, the aim of the forum was to inform businesses about French training in South Africa and about the international French service providers in South Africa and in France. They were all represented at the forum.
- It was also to identify the French language training needs of Francophone and South African companies, to adapt the offer of French to these needs and to strengthen teacher training in French for professional purposes.
- In the long term, the aim of this forum was to start a discussion on how to make learning more attractive and more responsive to the needs of the professional world.
Development and interventions/speeches:
The forum consisted of three half-day sessions at the Wanderers Club in Johannesburg, (15 April), at the Southern Sun Elangeni Hotel in Durban (16 April) and at the Radisson Blu Hotel, Granger Bay in Cape Town (17 April).
The forum was open by Her Excellency Elisabeth Barbier, Ambassador of France to South Africa, and was hosted by Mr. Victor Kgomoeswana, author, speaker on radio and television, and specialist in economic relations between South Africa and the rest of the continent.
- Round table 1 outlined the business relationship between the Francophonie (particularly in French speaking Africa) and South Africa. Speakers first gave an overview of these relationships, and companies’ leaders/managers exposed their vision of these relations in light of their experience in Francophone African countries. Mr. Laurent Gallissot, Head of the French language and Education department at the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development did a presentation of the Ministry’s strategic objectives for the development of professional French, particularly in Africa.
- Round table 2 dealt with the importance of French for employability. Speakers gave examples of the challenges related to recruiting French-speakers in South Africa with sufficient expertise in French for professional use. The round table also focussed on conveying a message to professionals in education: French is an asset for employment when it is accompanied by skills in another field: law, management, finance etc.
- Round table 3 was a presentation of the training and certification offered by the main role players of the Francophonie in France and in Southern Africa.
At the forum held in Johannesburg, one has to single out the presence of Mr HM Mweli, the Deputy General Director of the South African Department of Education (Department of Basic Education - DBE), who made an opening speech in which he expressed interest in the initiative and indicated, after the event, that he was ready to continue exchanges on the place of French in the South African Education system.
Review and Prospects:
The forum was well attended (140 participants in Johannesburg, 90 in Durban and 130 in Cape) and there was good media coverage.
- The forum’s master of ceremony, Mr. Victor Kgomoeswana, gave Ambassador Barbier a 20-minute interview on his 6pm weekday PowerFM radio show.
- An article was also published on the News 24 website, widely read throughout the country: http://www.fin24.com/Economy/Use-French-for-business-in-Africa-forum-20150417.
- Furthermore the MAEDI spokesman announced the event on April 14 under the heading "News of the cultural network - South Africa – Forum "Le francais, langue de l’emploi”.
Besides the publication and distribution of interventions, different lines of work will be explored:
- Networking between education bodies and the private sector in the field of vocational training. Therefore, the establishment of internship programmes in companies for university and school students with French will be studied with partners.
- Another line of work is the creation and hosting of a circle of Human Resources Directors of companies, which would meet on issues pertaining to the recruitment of French-speakers, to share job offers and to exchange information.
- In the same spirit of collaboration with the private sector, French will be promoted in schools and universities.
Download the 2015 programme here.