Theresa May is on her first visit to Africa since she became the British Prime Minister in 2016. She is visiting South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria on a trade and new partnership mission as she leads Britain into the final stages of the opinion-dividing Brexit from the European Union.
The visit will offer the UK leader a firsthand look at the profound change – both politically and economically – Africa, a continent that was largely colonised by Britain for centuries, has witnessed of the years. In Kenya, this will be the first visit by a British Prime Minister in 30 years! And a lot has truly changed in that time.
In Cape Town, South Africa, the first leg of her tour, she delivered a strong, call-to-action speech, which pointed out a broad range of issues, but more so emphatically spelt out her ambitious trade and investment plans for the continent she agrees is changing and is on the rise. “By 2022, I want the UK to be the G7’s number one investor in Africa,” she stated.
Here are some of the key points from the dense 4000-word speech:
- This week I am visiting three countries – South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya…With thriving democracies, strong international ties, including through the Commonwealth, and fast-changing economies, they are typical of 21st century Africa. An Africa very different to the stereotypes that dominated previous centuries, and that some people still believe even today.
- In 2018, five of the world’s fastest-growing economies are African. The continent’s total GDP could well double between 2015 and 2030. By 2050, a quarter of the world’s population and a quarter of the world’s consumers will live here.
- From the Western Cape to the Mediterranean come stories of increasing stability, growth, innovation and hope. South Africa, for so long blighted by the evils of Apartheid, is free, democratic, and home to one of the continent’s largest economies. In Cote D’Ivoire, GDP is growing three times faster than in Europe. And Ethiopia – for a generation of British people often associated only with famine – is fast becoming an industrialised nation, creating a huge number of jobs and establishing itself as a global destination for investment.
- Yet, in a situation familiar to nations around the world, progress has not been uniform. Achieving not just growth but inclusive growth is a challenge faced by governments in the UK, Europe, North America and beyond. And as African economies become more successful it is an issue that is being confronted here too.
- Africa’s young population represents a phenomenal level of human capital and potential. With their innovation, dynamism and creativity, Africa’s young people could enrich not only this continent but the world economy and society at large. But to make the most of this promise it needs to be properly harnessed. Between now and 2035, African nations will have to create 18 million new jobs every year just to keep pace with the rapidly growing population. That’s almost 50,000 new jobs every single day, simply to maintain employment at its current level. That would be huge challenge for any continent.
- The challenges facing Africa are not Africa’s alone. It is in the world’s interest to see that those jobs are created, to tackle the causes and symptoms of extremism and instability, to deal with migration flows and to encourage clean growth… If we fail to do so, the economic and environmental impacts will swiftly reach every corner of our networked, connected world. That is why I want to create a new partnership between the UK and our friends in Africa, one built around our shared prosperity and shared security.
- As Prime Minister of a trading nation whose success depends on global markets, I want to see strong African economies that British companies can do business with in a free and fair fashion. Whether through creating new customers for British exporters or opportunities for British investors, our integrated global economy means healthy African economies are good news for British people as well as African people.
- In 2018 African and British security are inextricably linked and mutually dependent. That’s one of the reasons why I continue to support calls for a permanent African presence on the UN Security Council.
- I can today announce a new ambition: by 2022, I want the UK to be the G7’s number one investor in Africa, with Britain’s private sector companies taking the lead in investing the billions that will see African economies growing by trillions. We have the tools to do so.
- I can today announce an additional £4 billion programme of UK investment in African economies that will pave the way for at least another £4 billion of private sector financing. This includes, for the first time, an ambition from the UK government’s Development Finance Institution, CDC, to invest £3.5 billion in African nations over the next four years. And next year London will host an Africa Investment Summit, helping investors and African governments forge closer ties with one another.
- I am committed to Africa, and committed to using every lever of the British government to support the partnerships and ideas that will bring benefits for generations to come.