LONDON – Twenty-four African heads of state will be in the United Kingdom for the second in-person UK-African Investment Summit in London next month, as the country tightens policy in Africa following Brexit.
The first summit was in 2020 and UK’s Business and Trade Secretary Kemi Badenoch said the second one would build on the achievements of the past.
“I’m pleased that we are building on the success of the 2020 Summit as we continue to strengthen our excellent relationships with our African partners,” he said.
“These partnerships have already helped grow our economies, and I look forward to coming together again to discuss our joint ambitions to increase trade and investment, enhance market access and create jobs.”
In 2020, about R144 billion (£6.5 billion) worth of deals was announced in addition to around R197 billion (£8.9 billion) in investment commitments.
During the Covid-19 lockdown, the format of the summit changed to a virtual arrangement, and more than 3 000 UK and African delegates connected in search of opportunities.
In a statement, the UK Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office said this year’s summit will “promote two-way trade and investment, creating jobs and growth and supporting women entrepreneurs.”
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak will host the summit to work towards policies that will create platforms “supporting British and African talent in sectors such as finance and technology”.
The UK is interested in forging more ties with Africa because, in about three decades, two billion people will live on the continent, and more than half will be under 25. This means that Africa will have the biggest labour force pool – with the potential of turning the continent’s fortunes around, as well as those of its partners.
Sunak said working with Africa would help “to grow the UK’s economy, create opportunities for growth and bolster our economic security, we must deepen our ties with partners across the world”.
Sub-Saharan Africa is the hardest hit by climate change, although it contributes the least to greenhouse emissions.
Just like other nations and blocs seeking to strengthen ties with Africa, climate change is at the centre of the UK’s policy.
“During the next two years, faster economic growth is expected across sub-Saharan Africa than the global average,” the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office said in a statement.
“And as the world faces the stark and shared challenge of climate change, the UK is working with African countries to support them to mitigate and adapt to its effects, recognising Africa’s abundant potential for renewable energies of the future.”
The UK at one time controlled at least 17 countries in Africa, but through the Commonwealth, it has forged relations with a total of 19 member states in Africa.
The summit will also have leaders from non-Commonwealth nations, bringing the number of heads of state to 24. – News 24