On the 31st of January the UK will be leaving the EU and the new decade presents us with an opportunity to strengthen further our ties with countries across the world.
As a part of strengthening those ties, on 20 January the Prime Minister hosted the UK-Africa Investment Summit in London, a major milestone in international relations, which my department helped to organise.
The Summit brought together UK and African business representatives, African government leaders from 21 countries, international institutions, young entrepreneurs and members of the African diaspora in the UK, to create new partnerships that will deliver more investment and jobs.
Africa is home to eight of the world’s 15 fastest growing economies. By 2050, one in four global consumers will be African. The UK wants and needs closer trading partnerships with African nations – and Africa needs much more capital and investment. Currently, African countries receive less than 4 per cent of foreign direct investment. This is a wasted opportunity.
Despite richer countries around the world collectively spending around $140 billion per year in development assistance to help developing nations, the UN estimates than an extra $2.5 trillion is needed every year to end poverty in developing countries and meet the 17 Global Goals. Goals which aim to make the world a fairer, healthier, safer and more prosperous place for everyone, everywhere by 2030. So there is an urgent need to mobilise far more private sector investment, alongside government money.
I was therefore delighted that, in addition to the commercial deals announced at the Summit, the UK government announced a range of initiatives and funding to turbo-charge infrastructure financing, enable Africa’s clean energy potential, empower female entrepreneurs and transform economies.
Investment in economies and businesses creates sustainable jobs. Investment in infrastructure enables children to go to school. Investment in vital public services like health and education gives young people the opportunity to shape their own futures and reach their potential. It is the difference between surviving and thriving.
The Summit successfully laid the foundations for new partnerships between the UK and African nations based on trade, investment, shared values and mutual interest.
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