Belgium, (Brussels Morning Newspaper) French President Emmanuel Macron started his four-day tour of Western Africa on Monday.
The main topic of his discussions with officials in Cameroon, Benin and Guinea-Bissau will be food supply issues, according to France24 reporting.
African nations fear potential shortages of food, especially grain, in the wake of the war in Ukraine.
Besides the looming food crisis, Macron is to discuss security concerns as France wraps up its withdrawal from Mali this year and neighbouring countries fear jihadist insurgencies.
One of Macron’s election promises was to strengthen cooperation with African countries and address concerns that other powers are looking to strengthen their influence in Western Africa, including China, Russia and Turkey.
A French official pointed out that Macron’s tour “will show the commitment of the president in the process of renewing the relationship with the African continent.”
Macron is to meet President of Cameroon Paul Biya who took office in 1982 and is the longest-ruling non-royal head of state in the world.
Biya has been cracking down on separatists and rejecting calls for federalism, with France supplying the country with weapons and military training as the largest foreign investor.
On Wednesday, Macron is to visit Benin which has been facing jihadist attacks, especially in the north of the country.
While Benin received praise for its multi-party democracy, critics warn that democracy in the Western African nation has been eroding under President Patrice Talon since he took office in April of 2016.
Opposition leader and former Finance Minister Reckya Madougou was arrested last year and sentenced to 20 years in prison for complicity in terrorist acts.
On Thursday, Macron is to wrap up his Western African tour with a visit to Guinea-Bissau.
Activists have criticised all three Western African countries for violation of human rights, with the Élysée Palace stressing that Macron will discuss the issue “without media noise, but in the form of direct exchanges between the heads of states.”Last week, Macron announced plans to rethink France’s military presence in Western Africa by autumn, stressing that deployment of French troops in the region was still a “strategic necessity.”