France will renegotiate its defence deals with African countries, French President Nicolas Sarkozy has said.
Sarkozy wants to improve relations with English-speaking Africa
The country has military accords with several of its ex-colonies and recently helped Chad repulse a rebel attack.
"They must reflect Africa as it is today and not as it was yesterday," Mr Sarkozy told South Africa's parliament in Cape Town during a state visit.
It was also agreed a French firm would build a $2bn coal power plant in South Africa, which is facing a power crisis.
In a wide-ranging speech, Mr Sarkozy also touched on migration - comparing the situation in Europe with South Africa which also has an influx of African migrants.
He said quotas had to be considered and that a new partnership was needed to end the brain drain from Africa, which was harming the continent.
He said, for example, that there were more Beninois doctors in France than in Benin itself.
The French president also said Africa should have at least one permanent seat on the UN Security Council and that France would no longer accept major world affairs being discussed without a leading African country being involved.
Mr Sarkozy said Europe and Africa needed to forge new ties based on equality and respect.
FRENCH MILITARY PRESENCE
Largest military base: Djibouti
Other main bases: Dakar (Senegal); Libreville (Gabon)
1,200 troops in Chad, including in the capital, N'Djamena, to protect French nationals
300 troops in Bangui (CAR)
Approx 3,000 troops in Ivory Coast under a UN mandate
Source: Council on Foreign Relations
France's defence changes would mark a "major turning point", he said, although he was not proposing to scrap all existing agreements, but he wanted to adapt them to the realities of the present.
That included transparency, with all defence agreements to be made public in their entirety.
France has what it terms "defence agreements", providing for direct military intervention, with Central African Republic, Gabon, Senegal and Ivory Coast.
It also has several military bases on the continent with thousands of troops stationed in Djibouti, Senegal and Gabon.
He said France had no reason to maintain armed forces on the continent indefinitely and that Africa had to take responsibility for its own security issues.
President Sarkozy said that in no way was France pulling out or disengaging, but he wanted his country to work to a greater extent alongside the African Union.
Correspondents say Paris has been accused in the past of supporting dubious dictators in Africa while ignoring corruption.
Mr Sarkozy arrived in South Africa after a brief stay in Chad, where French forces helped evacuate foreigners as rebels entered the capital last month.
France provided logistical help to the government in N'Djamena.
The BBC's Mohammed Allie in Cape Town says Mr Sarkozy and his South Africa counterpart Thabo Mbeki had a good rapport.
Mr Mbeki thanked Mr Sarkozy for the speed with which he agreed to send French engineers to advise South Africa about its power supply crisis.
"The president immediately agreed that within a few days all of those engineers will be here," Mr Mbeki said.
The two leaders were present at the signing ceremony for Alstom to build the coal-fuelled power plant.
Mr Sarkozy's visit is going to centre on other trade issues on Friday and he is accompanied by 40 French business executives on his visit.