UK-Africa Investment Summit, London 20 January 2020
As we turn the corner into a new decade, we also enter a new era for the United Kingdom outside of the European Union. Brexit has dominated the domestic news agenda for over three years and whilst Oshun Partnership did not support the UK leaving the EU, we know that Britain’s future prosperity will depend on the partnerships that can be forged with other countries, in the EU and beyond.
The first UK-Africa Investment Summit, co-hosted by the Department for International Development, Department for International Trade and Foreign and Commonwealth Office, offered an opportunity to deepen partnerships with African nations. Presidents and ministers from sixteen countries joined the UK Prime Minister and business leaders to discuss trade and investment opportunities.
The Summit provided the space and opportunity to talk about Africa’s growth potential. In recent years, Africa’s average annual GDP growth has consistently outpaced the global average and six of the world’s 10 fastest-growing economies are in Africa.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced deals worth £6.5 billion, with clean energy dominating the agenda. PM Johnson said that ‘the British Government will no longer provide any new direct official development assistance, investment, export credit or trade promotion for thermal coal mining or coal power plant overseas […] Instead, we’re going to focus on supporting the transition to lower-and-zero-carbon alternatives.’
PM Johnson highlighted the importance of UK-Africa partnership, particularly in a post-Brexit Britain:
‘One thing that unites African countries is ambition, and optimism and, by comparison with much of the rest of the world, quite staggering levels of growth … Two-thirds of African economies are expanding faster than the global average. Africa is the future and the UK has a huge and active role to play in that future.’
The day centred around four main themes:
Sustainable finance and infrastructure, including procuring a new programme to support African governments to develop and raise sustainable financing for high-quality, public sector infrastructure.
Trade and investment, where a new partnership with the City of London was announced and the UK committed over £397 million to accelerate and consolidate links between the UK and Africa.
Clean energy transformation, with speakers strongly advocating the potential for African nations to lead the way in clean development and playing an active role in carving out sustainable change with a package of new initiatives.
African growth opportunities, which saw the UK committing support to African countries to transform their economies, particularly in sectors that can create quality jobs at scale.
The business hub at the summit showcased exciting new technological opportunities. The UK committed to deliver a new Digital Access Programme in Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa with £45 million of funding. There were also commitments to increase connectivity and digital skills for marginalised communities; build cybersecurity capacity and establish Tech Hubs to grow the local digital economy; and empower start-ups with the skills needed to expand globally. The summit also highlighted the importance of the role of women in growth and their potential to drive economic growth.
The event hosted award winning African entrepreneurs, who spoke passionately about the importance of entrepreneurship and women’s involvement in innovation. It was a privilege for Oshun to work with these entrepreneurs, including Monica Musunda, the founder and CEO of Java Foods which seeks to provide affordable nutrition to the Southern African market. Monica not only seeks to inspire, but feed the next generation and has been recognised by Forbes Magazine as a ‘young power woman’ in Africa.
Oshun Partnership was delighted to support the UK Government in delivering the summit. Already many countries possess longstanding collaborative trade relations with Africa, yet this was the first time that a summit of this scale had taken place in the UK. The ambition should be to build upon this in future years.
Oshun Partnership Executive Director Sarah Beeching said:
‘This marks a watershed moment for relations between the UK and African nations. We already know of the huge vibrancy and opportunity across the continent. With a young generation of entrepreneurs leading the way, the UK should be looking to harness the opportunity to collaborate and invest with African nations in order to deliver a brighter future for the next generation.’
Written by Sarah Beeching and Georgie Boardman