Minister for Africa Harriett Baldwin spoke at the British Foreign Policy Group about the future of the UK’s partnership with Africa.
Thank you, and thank you all for being here today, to consider the future of British and African partnerships.
I look around the room and I see that some of you can probably remember how you felt when you were 18 years old. Some of us struggle — but some of you could still remember that feeling.
And I think that what is absolutely the most exciting thing about Africa is the way in which the median age is 15, the average age about 18 — and it’s that excitement and optimism and energy that I find so fascinating and exciting in terms of the work that I do with African countries.
So far in this role I’ve had the pleasure of visiting seven African countries and I’ve been really struck in each place that I have visited with the passion, the energy, and the extraordinarily entrepreneurial spirit of everyone that I’ve come across in Africa.
It really is a continent absolutely crammed with possibility.
And for the UK, Africa matters
This is why — in my role as Minister for Africa in both the Department for International Development and the Foreign Office — I am truly championing a whole-of-Government approach to stepping up our partnership with African countries.
This means bringing together the UK’s development and humanitarian expertise, our world-class diplomacy, our political analysis, our trade experts, our health specialists, our education experts and our military and security excellence.
We are really extending our reach across Africa. So far this year the UK has opened new posts in Lesotho and eSwatini, Mauritania and Chad, and there will be more to come. The vision is that at the end of this process we will have more offices across Africa than any other European country.
That comprehensive and integrated package that we have offers real advantage to the young people of Africa on the issues that they think are most important for their future.
We are listening to them and will be driven by what they most want and need from us. Across the continent we will work together to further the aspirations and ambitions of the countries I am privileged to work with every day.
I don’t really need to emphasise to this audience the scale of the opportunity, but by 2050 the population of Africa is expected to reach 2.5 billion people. That is a both a great opportunity and a great challenge.
Nigeria alone needs to create about 6,000 new jobs every single day until 2030 just to keep up with the growth in its population.
Because without jobs and opportunities, the optimistic and eager 18 year olds I meet today could become the frustrated, hopeless and angry young people of tomorrow.
So the UK must step up its support now, to work with African countries to build opportunities for the growing numbers of young people entering the job market every year.
Creating jobs for millions of young people is vital to ensuring the stability and economic prosperity of the continent.
Reliable jobs represent a “win” for our African partners’ economic futures and a “win” for the UK by supporting all-important trade relationships.
Trade can support the creation of millions of jobs and stimulate the trillions of pounds of investment needed to help countries ultimately move on from a dependence on aid.
This is why — working with the International Trade Centre — we launched the SheTrades Commonwealth programme, an ambitious venture to boost the role of women in international trade, in Kenya, Ghana and Nigeria.
And it is why we will be funding a programme to help countries implement the World Trade Organisation’s landmark Trade Facilitation Agreement — which is expected to boost global trade by up to $1 trillion.
This power of trade is also why the Department for International Development has funded the TradeMark East Africa programme, which has significantly reduced the time it takes to clear and transport cargo through Mombasa port and beyond, encouraging trade in and out of Kenya.
You might also know that the Government just announced the first ever Her Majesty’s Trade Commissioner for Africa. Another sign of our long-term commitment to trade.
But there is also a lack of public and private investment in many African countries. We want to leverage British expertise to help change that. For example using our financial industries and the City of London to foster deeper capital markets and strengthen links between the Bank of England and other central banks.
At the Commonwealth Summit the Development Secretary announced a package of new initiatives to deepen the partnership between the Department for International Development, the City of London and African nations.
It included the launch of a learning partnership between the Bank of England and central banks in Sierra Leone, Ghana and South Africa, as well as support for developing countries to access global capital markets in their own currencies.
The UK’s Development Finance Institution CDC is forging paths for other investors by concentrating its efforts in the poorest and most fragile countries in Africa and South Asia. Between 2014 and 2016 companies backed by CDC created over 3 million new direct and indirect jobs, and paid taxes to national governments worth over $9 billion.
There needs to be a huge increase in private sector funding if the UN Global Goals are to be met by 2030. Which is why we’re providing new capital to CDC to help trigger even more job creation and growth in the poorest countries and to mobilise the private sector to rise to the challenge of investing in new markets.
And it’s why we’re emphasising the value to Global Britain of the UK being a meeting point for the world’s global investment opportunities and the world’s global investors. — Business Ghana.