Graham Stuart MP "It's the perfect time for British business to invest in Africa"

Writing in The Times on 8 May 2019, Graham Stuart MP, International Trade Minister and MP for Holderness makes the case for Business investment and job creation in Africa. Long term sustainable growth enables economic development and progression from aid partners to trading partners for the future.

It’s the perfect time for British businesses to invest in Africa

Africa has never looked so attractive as an investment destination and I want to see more British businesses seizing the opportunities. This is the message I will underline today when I address heads of state and global investors at an African Financial Services Investment Conference in London this week.

So, why Africa? The continent is full to the brim with opportunities for British businesses across all types of sectors, including infrastructure, agri-tech, and renewable energy. Last year the prime minister set the ambitious goal to make Britain the largest G7 investor in Africa by 2022, with the aim of surpassing the United States.

It’s clear that the region represents one of the best investment opportunities both at present and in the future, with the economic profile looking increasingly positive. Only last year, the continent was home to five of the world’s fastest-growing economies. By 2050, the population of Africa is predicted to double in size to account for 26 per cent of the world’s total, and by 2030, the region’s GDP is set to double.

The increasing purchasing power of African nations coupled with a rapidly expanding middle class will be pivotal in shaping the world economy over the coming years. British firms growing their presence in the region now offers the chance for us to become African nations’ partner of choice.
Already, trade between Africa and Britain trade is at £33.1 billion and close to 2,000 British businesses are operating in Africa. This includes businesses such as Anglo American, G4S (Africa’s largest private sector employer), Standard Chartered Bank, GlaxoSmithKline, BP (which invested more in Egypt last year than it did anywhere else worldwide) and Vodafone, which is expanding its mobile network in several countries across the continent.

Yet there is the potential to do much more and we want British firms to play a key role in the region’s success, to ensure we can deliver the win-win opportunities African leaders are asking us for and to unlock high-quality investment to deliver more exports and more jobs.

This can’t be done by firms in isolation. It will require our governments, businesses and individuals working together in a responsible way to achieve our common goal, Africa’s long-term prosperity. We are committed to helping British investors to access new opportunities across the continent and have recently opened new embassies in Lesotho, Chad and Niger, and are expanding our network of expert trade advisers on the ground.

We’re also determined to ensure that no British businesses fails in the region because of lack of finance, with more than £26 billion of export credit available to support British companies. These opportunities are exciting, and the UK has a lot to offer; we’re home to the largest financial centre in the world, cutting-edge science and technology industries, world-class defence and diplomacy expertise, and we’re a champion of free trade already operating all over the world.

As part of our commitment to the region we will be holding a Britain-Africa investment summit here next year. This summit will bring together UK and African governments and major international investors to grow awareness of investment opportunities on the continent, showcase the unique British offer and help to progress our ambition to be the largest G7 investor in Africa by 2022.
Africa’s boom is happening, is starting to gain momentum and it’s in all our interests to support a strong and prosperous continent.

That makes it a smart bet for any investor looking for long-term, sustainable gains and to catch the right side of what will become one of the defining trends of the 21st-century world economy.