Theresa May on Africa visit - pledges investment boost after Brexit

CAPE TOWN - Theresa May has announced plans to boost Britain's investment in Africa after Brexit, during her first trip to the continent as prime minister.

In a speech in Cape Town, she pledged £4bn in support for African economies, to create jobs for young people.

She also pledged a "fundamental shift" in aid spending to focus on long-term economic and security challenges rather than short-term poverty reduction.

She will also visit Nigeria and Kenya during the three-day trade mission.

On her way to South Africa, the prime minister also played down warnings from the chancellor about the economic damage a no-deal Brexit could cause.

Talking to journalists on board RAF Voyager on Tuesday morning, Mrs May reiterated that she believed a no-deal Brexit was still better than a bad deal - adding no-deal "wouldn't be the end of the world".

Mrs May's trip - which will see her meet the presidents of all three countries - aims to deepen economic and trade ties with growing African economies ahead of Britain leaving the EU in 2019.

Arriving in South Africa on Tuesday morning, Mrs May said she she wanted the UK to overtake the US to become the G7's biggest investor in Africa by 2022.

Promising an extra £4bn in state investment - which she expects to be matched by the private sector - she said while the UK could not match the "economic might" of some foreign investors - such as China or the US - it offered a unique "high quality and breadth" of investment.

She defended the UK's aid spending in Africa, a target of criticism from some Tory MPs, saying it had "worked" to give millions of children and women an education and immunise millions against deadly diseases.

But she said she was "unashamed" that it had to work in the UK's own interest and pledged a new approach in future, focusing on helping British private sector companies invest in fast-growing countries like Cote D'Ivoire and Senegal while supporting countries, such as Chad, Mail and Niger, in "the frontline of instability".

The UK's overseas aid budget totalled £13.9bn in 2017, an increase of £555m in 2016.

UK direct investment in Africa was £42.7bn in 2016, compared to £44.3bn from the US, £38bn from France and £31bn from China, according to data from the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development.

Mrs May said national self-interest and global co-operation were not in conflict and the UK could play a key role in harnessing the "innovation and creativity" of young people in Africa, 60% of whose population is under the age of 25%.

"The challenges facing Africa are not Africa's alone," she said. "It is the world's interest to see these jobs created."

BBC political correspondent Ben Wright said like other European leaders the PM saw "huge economic potential to tap" in Africa and was keen to support economic stability in the region in order to "stem the flow of migration".

Comments (5)

Snubbed Zimbabwe? The new kid on the block that's "Open for Business" !! Should we take it as egg in the face for our new president? Or is it because the UK sees no business value in that shame of a country, as long as those Zanu -pf thugs are still at the helm?

Changamire Dombo - 28 August 2018

So the UK does not recognise ED's so called 'new dispensation that is open for business?!' Trump is hosting Kenyatta as we write also pledging billions in investment. So the UK and EU view RSA even with the impending land grabs as a better investment opportunity than Zim. no wonder why Cyril was quick to congratulate ED...ululating for a fool that's about to dive into a croc-infested pond. Zimbabwe is now indeed a junky state no one sees any business value in accept afew con-Chinese and Russians who are milking the few minerals that's left in the country.

Sinyo - 28 August 2018

Sorry for my crude observation but, I find the comments by Sinyo and Changamire Dombo very shallow, and partisan. If you remember during the inaguaration of the President elect, Kenya and South Africa were represented. Ceril R promised to work with Zimbabwe while the Kenyan representative promised a bigger business delegation to come. It would be naive of the British Prime Minister to visit Zimbabwe directly while the MDC Alliance is still challenging the election results. It is also a fact that she will not visit Botswana but, chose the few African economic powerhouses which are former colonies (Kenya, Nigeria & South Africa) with visible relationship to Zimbabwe. I suggest we be objective when commenting of these kind of issue than continue burying our heads in the sand.

Innocent Matandamavi - 28 August 2018

Britain seem very Nigerian. You are likely to find a briton with her hubby in Makoko than in Sandton. Good luck to the PM.

Juru - 31 August 2018

Humusikuvanzwisisa , varikureva kuri...varungu vachatorwerwa mapurasi ku south africa tichavapa mari yekuti vaite mabhizimusi mamwe africa yese. Vana vavo tichavapa mukana wekuzodzidza kunyika kwedu havabhadhare mutero wechikoro. Pati yechitori haiwanzotarisa vanhu vatema kunze kana vachida mari. Chimbozvibvunza kuti vangani vanemabhizimusi mu randani vanhu anemusoro ?....vashoma kana kuti hakuna unlike 10yrs ago. Ekungoraramisa yes ariko. Uye vangani vanhu varikumavhasiti ?? vashoma , vazhinji havakusvike...kunze kana uchida kuita nesi.

Hambautare - 14 September 2018

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