Le numérique, une opportunité pour diffuser la francophonie dans le monde ? (1/3)

Je suis heureux de vous annoncer la traduction en anglais du compte-rendu d’une conférence-débat, organisée le 7 octobre 2014 à l’Assemblée nationale, à l’occasion de la première session de l’Assemblée des Français à l’étranger, avec le soutien de la revue Sens Public. Elle s’était déroulée présence d’Axelle Lemaire, Secrétaire d’Etat au numérique, de Gérard Wormser, philosophe et directeur de Sens Public, d’Angélique Delorme et Adrienne Brotons, rapporteurs pour Jacques Attali sur la Francophonie Numérique, de Raphaël Taïeb, directeur du livrescolaire.fr, d’Olivier Nusse, président du Bureau Export de la Musique française et directeur de Mercury, de Clara Danon, responsable Mission Numérique pour l’Enseignement Supérieur, d’Annick Girardin, Secrétaire d’État à la Francophonie, d’Hélène Farnaud-Defromont, directrice de l’Agence pour l’enseignement français à l’étranger et de Pierre Ouedraogo, directeur de la francophonie numérique à l’Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie.


J’avais voulu, à travers cette conférence-débat, discuter de l’opportunité de diffuser la francophonie dans le monde grâce au numérique. La traduction de ce compte-rendu en anglais, effectuée par Amudha Lingeswaraan, était néanmoins importante pour moi, car elle permet de faire circuler les idées proposées par le débat hors des frontières de la francophonie. Je vous invite donc ici à en découvrir un premier extrait.

Christophe PREMAT, Deputy for French residents overseas, for the Third constituency of Northern Europe

Honourable Ministers,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Advisors of the Assembly of French Citizens Overseas,
Distinguished Ambassadors,
Dear representatives of the Government and economic stakeholders,

I thank you for coming here to discuss the issues involved in promoting the Francophonie through digital praxis. The French Citizens abroad are meeting for the first time after the reform. I am delighted that they are having a new forum to voice their views. With the increasing mobility of our fellow citizens, I firmly believe that digital praxis can bring solutions.

Likewise, the Attali report on August 26 to the French President highlights digital praxis as a platform for promoting French language and French people beyond our borders.
The round table will address issues based around three themes :

  • Digital praxis facilitates access to lifelong learning. The training courses must be professional and qualifying to facilitate international mobility. The Attali report rightly suggests to develop digital educational content, MOOCs (Massive Online Open Courses) known in French as FLOTs (Formations en Ligne Ouvertes à Tous).
  • Digital Praxis fosters the development of a media and content-based French economy.
  • Digital Praxis promotes access to French-language education. The French-speaking countries are establishing a foothold in the digital market.
    Our discussions will certainly be very fruitful. I call Gérard Wormser who does us the honour of moderating this round table.

Gérard WORMSER, philosopher and editor of the journal Sens Public

There is a need to develop e-learning courses and to enable students to access qualifying courses.

Those who are taking online courses must have degrees recognized by the University.
Proposal no. 44 provides students with a digital platform for monitoring.

The French High school abroad is a wonderful tool. Students are not monitored at this stage but are a great strength for our country.

I would encourage you to download the Ferry report 3.0 on digital education.


Axelle LEMAIRE, Deputy Minister for Digital Affairs

The honourable Member, dear Christophe, Distinguished Ambassadors,

I would like to thank you for the invitation. We are both elected representatives from Northern Europe. Christophe is a French language specialist and I am a digital technology expert.

This is the first time I am speaking on this twofold theme. Interestingly enough, La Francophonie is at the heart of my own personal story. I am a French-speaking citizen in Quebec that Gille Vigneault called “the vast land without borders, a French-speaking nation from within, the invisible, spiritual, mental, moral land that is in each of you.”
The digital field falling under my responsibility involves another value community, form of friendship, cooperation, sharing through innovative tools, but essentially similar in their ways of being and doing.

The Francophone diffusion curve systematically follows the projected deployment of Internet use in Africa. Between 1998 and today, the number of Internet users has increased from three hundred thousand to three billion.

With the digital and Francophone future in Africa, we need to rethink our analytic models based on a pre-eminence of European speakers for decades.

We must enhance the worldwide use of French vis-à-vis English. My colleague Annick Girardin will expand on educational issues related to learning French. We need to widen access to French language through digital praxis. As a result, I launched the French version of the online interactive platform called CODECADEMY that offers free coding classes with real professional opportunities and provides young people, wherever they are, with an avenue for creative expression in the digital world.

Developing educational content from the digital content Frameworks, scientific-cultural terminology and value will increasingly be created by using digital educational tools. I commend the pilot action undertaken by the AEFE, which in association with the CNED is capable of testing innovative solutions in this highly innovative field.

The figures show the parallelism between digital praxis and Francophonie, which is now finding it hard to exist in the digital world.

First, since digital praxis was born in Silicon Valley and its historical roots are so deep that American soft power now dominates the digital world to a point where all the vocabulary borrowed from this universe is in English. I am often accused of using the words “start up”, “scale up”, “digital”, “corporate venture”, “business angels”, “coding”, “and clusters” but translating them in French is virtually impossible ! It is here that the Francophonie has a role to play. Communities must stimulate open content production. Launched in June 2012, through an agreement between Wikimedia France and the French University Institute of the Francophonie, the AFRIPEDIA project aims at promoting access to Wikipedia in French-speaking Africa. Technology enables the dissemination of co-developed and freely shared knowledge. Overall, the programme contributes to creating a Wikipedia community where the people of French-speaking Africa can express themselves and share their culture.

An economic issue in the Attali report has caught my attention. The prospect of French becoming a worldwide spoken language presents a major market opportunity. Digital praxis has the advantage of lifting barriers to entry, which will be rewarding for the most challenging and fastest growing markets. French groups hold all the aces to be able to benefit from the development of the Francophonie, but foreign groups, which are currently much better prepared to target international markets, could rapidly overtake them.

For example, Africa is the second largest market for telephony in the world with phones selling four times as much as the computers. If less than 5% of Africa’s population is now having access to smartphones, this is expected to rise to nearly 20% in 2017.

At issue is not the question of using Africa’s resources but pursuing innovation and economic development policies drawing on the potential of the various partners within a framework of co-construction and co-development. I chose to attend the ICT 4 All (Digital Praxis for All) Forum, in Tunis, a strategic crossroads for the growing African digital market between Europe, Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East. The Forum marked the first anniversary of the Franco-Tunisian Digital Alliance (AFTN). Tunisian and French firms agreed to work towards aligning their outputs to foster interactions, synergies, staff exchanges and to expand internationally. The summit in Dubai will see the launching of the Franco-Tunisian trade fair. This alliance pairs people sharing a common language. US investors often came to London crossing the Atlantic Ocean due to a common language that explains the Anglo-Saxon law and similar cultural, social perceptions. They would have to go through the same exercise in Europe. The online presence of various languages is increasing despite the difficulty in measuring the exact proportion of content in each language. French falls in between the 4th and the 8th place. The Francophone and Francophile community offers a forum for cooperation and experience sharing. A common vocabulary is needed to promote understanding, trading, civil society working, greater trust and transparency. This vocabulary must include common frames of reference (in mapping), comparable formats (in accounting).

The translation of software documentation, including free software must be encouraged. It is worth mentioning the exemplary work of the French speaking Libre Software Users’ Association (AFUL), a key education player under the framework agreement with the French Ministry of National Education (since 1988) and the University Agency for French-speaking Communities (AUF) (since 1999). Finally, the greatest challenge is around Internet governance. The French-speaking countries must help developing Internet governance that makes up different languages and cultural backgrounds. This multi-actor governance must be inclusive, transparent and independent.

The Francophonie can tackle this serious threat to Internet governance. A few days after my appointment, I attended the World Summit in São Paulo. We had Russia, China and Iran in favour of content monitoring and others opposed to a free Internet for big platforms called OTT (over-the-top). Since this is, the virtual sphere that relies on market rules without protection of citizens’ personal data and cultural diversity. A third option is to build a more open and fair governance for the French-speaking countries to venture into large emerging economies like Brazil and India. This is a geopolitical game. Two weeks ago, at the United Nations General Assembly in New York, the President of the French Republic spoke about the Open Government Partnership (OGP). The OGP is an international association, which unites governments seeking best practices on Open Government and the open use of public data for reuse by the citizens to enhance growth, legitimacy and democratic credibility of their action. I hope the Francophonie will intervene in the same way as it did with international official bodies. However, the OGP is important in view of the issues at stake.

I would like to conclude quoting Boutros Boutros-Ghali, 20 years before the Internet, in Kotonou : “the Francophonie has necessarily to be subversive and imaginative”. This statement could have been converted into a digital format because the people involved consider themselves as hackers who can subvert an established order. We can always support this manifesto.

Retrouvez cet article sur Sens Public.