Union Jack and South African Flag Side by Side

The UK is strengthening its economic partnerships with African nations, as part of a government drive to ensure the continent’s growing demand for investment is met by the UK’s expertise and innovation.

Programmes from the Department for International Development (DFID) and the Department for International Trade (DIT) will boost clean energy supplies, digital networks, jobs and business opportunities for women, as well as improving trade infrastructure.

They are also expected to mobilise billions of pounds in private sector investment for Africa, marking a new era of trade between the UK and Africa.

Africa has eight of the world’s 15 fastest-growing economies and there is a strong demand on the continent for clean, sustainable and innovative investment.

As home to some of the world’s most enterprising technologies and the financial centre of the world in the City of London, the UK is perfectly placed to meet that demand and be the continent’s investment partner of choice. 

DFID’s programmes, totalling £370m, include:

  • supporting African countries to meet their rapidly growing energy demands through green energy, including better access to solar energy and electricity
  • helping Africa thrive digitally through a £45m programme helping young Africans, especially women, access the internet, develop digital skills and find jobs
  • enabling at least 100,000 more women in Africa to secure high-quality jobs by funding their education and training
  • a £200m programme to help build basic trade infrastructure in southern Africa - supporting upgrades to border posts, ports and roads as well as improving trade policies and cutting red tape
  • boosting the flow of private investment into African projects supporting girls’ education, healthcare and climate resilience

Two joint DFID-DIT programmes, totalling £57m, includes:

  • a £37m programme to help businesses trade with and invest across Africa
  • a £20m programme that will support businesses in developing countries to increase trade with international markets

A separate Climate Finance Accelerator programme, worth £10m from the Department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), will help developing countries reduce emissions by attracting more foreign investment and helping to build renewable energy sources, such as wind farms. 

The announcement comes as British and African firms announce £6.5bn worth of commercial deals today at the UK-Africa Investment Summit, including:

  • a £25m investment by Matalan in Egypt to launch 11 new shopping outlets
  • GSK are investing a further £5m in their operations in Egypt
  • Diageo’s £167m investment in Kenya and East Africa to support the sustainability of breweries

To date, the UK has signed trade agreements with 11 African countries, covering 43% of the UK’s total trade with Africa and legislated for a trade preferences scheme with a further 35 African countries, with the ambition to build and deepen existing agreements in the future.

International Development Secretary, Alok Sharma, said: “Africa’s economic potential is huge, with eight of the world’s 15 fastest growing economies and a population set to double to over two billion by 2050.

“We have much to offer African nations - UK aid is tackling climate change and supporting women entrepreneurs, our tech and digital expertise is helping Africa grow new industries and the City of London is channelling billions of private investment into Africa, boosting jobs and growth.

“This summit is a major step in unlocking the UK’s unique offer, becoming Africa’s investment partner of choice and benefiting people and businesses across the UK and Africa.”

International Trade Secretary, Liz Truss, added: “Trade with countries across Africa has never been more exciting. As opportunities there grow, it’s great to see so many British firms paving the way in trading and investing in the region to drive growth, create jobs and boost vital infrastructure.

“We want the UK to be the investment partner of choice for African businesses and their governments. Our world-leading expertise in finance, tech, and innovation should make us the obvious choice and mark the UK and Africa out as natural partners for mutual prosperity.

“The deals announced today show the massive potential of UK-Africa trade and the investment programmes we’re launching will ensure UK and African businesses are able to capitalise on trade and investment opportunities, now and in the future.”

Neina Sheldon
Article by Neina Sheldon
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