Brexit Drives British Africa Investments

Brexit is a loss for Europe but it could turn into a win for Africa. Two African bonds listed at the London Stock Exchange (LSE) during an inaugural UK-Africa Invest summit held in London on January 20 as Britain begins the Brexit process. Attended by 21 invited African states and lasting three days, the summit also saw the British bourse sign a memorandum of understanding with the Ghana Stock Exchange (GSE).

Hosted by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the summit brought together businesses, governments and international institutions to showcase and promote the breadth and quality of investment opportunities across Africa. It was the latest in a series of “Africa-Plus-One” summits, encapsulating the idea of several African countries engaging a non-African state, preferably an industrialized one.

The first summit of this kind was held in France in 1972, followed by Japan in 1993, and the US in 2014 during Barrack Obama’s presidency. Most recently Russia had an African Summit last October.

However, none of these get-togethers has matched the scale and interest of the China-Africa summits, which kicked off 20 years ago. At the last one in 2018, twice as many African presidents attended the Beijing summit as attended the 73rd session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA 73) held same year.

The attention Africa is now receiving from the British government has almost everything to do with Brexit, with the UK on the verge of leaving the European Union (EU) on terms yet to be agreed. Britain needs to open up trade relations with other nations once it withdraws from trade agreements negotiated by the EU after the 18-month transition from being a member of the EU begins on January 31.

“We want to build a new future as a global free trading nation, that’s what we are doing now and that’s what we will be embarking on, on 31st of January,” PM Johnson told the gathering in London. “But I want to intensify and expand that trade in ways that go far beyond what we sell you or you sell us.”

The UK hopes to reverse its dwindling trade with Africa, which fell from 4.2% of its total trade in 2012 to just 2.0% or $46 billion in 2018. To put that in perspective, China’s 2018 trade with Africa was $204 billion, according to the country’s Ministry of Commerce. Most of that trade was with a small handful of countries; South Africa, Nigeria and […]

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