In this thesis, I have studied to what extent international structural changes and personal relationships between French and African leaders can explain the evolution of French Africa policy the last three decades. The changes on which the thesis focused were the end of the Cold War and the emergence of China on the African continent. To study this, neorealist and neopatrimonial theories were employed.
The findings indicate that the consequences of the end of the Cold War on French Africa policy were delayed because of the close, and neopatrimonial, ties between French and African leaders. After the Chinese presence gained in strength in the last ten years, French policy has changed more dramatically. For instance, recent years have seen French Africa policy going over to focus more on business, and some findings indicate that one is also seeing a revival of neopatrimonial ties. However, to what extent it is the Chinese emergence as an important player on the African continent that explains this is uncertain. In order to fully study the consequences for French policy there is a need for more analytical distance.