British Prime Minister, Theresa May is set to visit South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya for trade negotiations as the UK’s government moves to deepen investments across the continent. It has been confirmed that a business delegation made up of 29 representatives from UK business, half of which are SMEs, from across all regions of the UK and its devolved administrations, will join the Prime Minister on her expedition.
According to the UK’s Department of International Development, the visit comes at a time of enormous change across Africa. The trip comes even as the UK moves to relinquish its membership in the European Union (EU), as part of a process commonly referred to as ‘Brexit’.
Prime Minister May’s office stated that Brexit will allow for a truly Global Britain to invest in and work alongside African nations, with mutual benefits.
May will be the first British Prime Minister to visit Sub-Saharan Africa since 2013, and the first to go to Kenya in over 30 years.
“The Prime Minister’s central message will be focused on a renewed partnership between the UK and Africa, which will seek to maximise shared opportunities and tackle common challenges in a continent that is growing at a rapid pace – from the Sahara to South Africa,” her office said in a recent statement.
It has since emerged that Britain plans on building stronger partnerships with Africa, particularly by bringing the transformative power of private sector trade and investment from the UK.
The UK has expressed renewed interest in Africa from as early as February 2018, when Britain’s export finance agency, which works alongside the Department for International Trade, announced it will add Nigerian currency Naira to its roster of pre-approved currencies.
At the time, Laure Beaufils, the UK’s Deputy High Commissioner to Nigeria, stated that the announcement supports increased trade relationships between Nigeria and the UK. This meant that the UK government would be able to give financial support to Nigerian businesses in local currency. It also means that Britain will be able to provide guarantees in Naira for Nigerian projects.
Ahead of Theresa May’s visit, the Prime Minister’s office noted that Africa is home to 16% of the world’s people but accounts for just 3% of foreign direct investment (FDI) and 3% of global goods trade. By working with Africa, the UK may help tip these scales in the continent’s favour.
“Africa stands right on the cusp of playing a transformative role in the global economy, and as longstanding partners, this trip is a unique opportunity at a unique time for the UK to set out our ambition to work even closer together,” Prime Minister May explained ahead of her visit.
“A more prosperous, growing and trading Africa is in all of our interests and its incredible potential will only be realised through a concerted partnership between governments, global institutions and business,” she continued.
“As we prepare to leave the European Union, now is the time for the UK to deepen and strengthen its global partnerships. This week I am looking forward to discussing how we can do that alongside Africa to help deliver important investment and jobs as well as continue to work together to maintain stability and security,” she said.