UK Prime Minister, Iweala, others support green economic, infrastructural growth for Africa

Solomon Ezeme

British Prime Minister, Rt Hon Boris Johnson MP at the Africa Investment Conference 2022 held to mark the second anniversary of the UK-Africa Investment Summit, stated that the United Kingdom was fully prepared to help Africa revolutionize its economy through the UK’s Clean, Green Initiative.

During the virtual event, he assured the continent of the UK’s support and commitment towards the development of its infrastructure and its economy, in general, in such a way that guarantees the safety of the environment.

He stated that the UK was ready to facilitate any investor or partner willing to capture the climate change initiative into their business model, especially in Africa.

He explained that the Government was determined to join hands with African governments to bring about a green (eco-friendly) economic and infrastructural development across the length and breadth of Africa.

“Africa is transforming its fortunes by means of trade and investment.

“We are already one of Africa’s biggest commercial partners. We’ve signed 9 free trade agreements with our African friends. And in this financial year alone, our embassies and High Commissions helped British companies to invest 2.5bn pounds in Africa. But I am determined to do much more.

“Our shared task must be to ensure that Africa moves from the green industrial revolution to rescue humanity from the catastrophic climate change.

“The UK is already the biggest investor when it comes to renewable energy in South Africa.

“Now, we want to work alongside our African partners to build new and high-quality infrastructure, according to the highest standards of transparency and environmental protection, which is why we’ve launched the ‘Clean, Green Initiative.

“We want to be Africa’s partner of choice. And if we get this right, then free trade and investment would be the most formidable tools in our hands to generate economic growth and allow Africa to thrive,” the Prime Minister said.

During his speech at the conference, Lord Grimstone of Boscobel Kt, UK Minister for Investment (UK Department for International Trade), said: “The Department for International Trade could not be more committed to supporting UK companies to do business with and to invest in Africa.

“And in the green industries of the future, from hydrogen to wind energy, I really believe that the UK leads the world.

“And together with our African partners, we really want to use our expertise to spur a green industrial revolution across the continent.

“Now before the Pandemic, UK investments in Africa was booming. It boomed by almost 15% in 2019, taking our investment stock across the continent to more than £50bn.”

Highlighting some of the landmark achievements of his organization, the UK Department for International Trade, Lord Grimstone expressed the organization’s commitment towards transforming the African continent into a green space through the promotion and utilization of renewables and clean energy sources.

“And I’m very proud that my department, DIT, has continued to stand side-by-side with businesses and supported investment projects worth almost 2.5bn into Africa in 2021.

“Projects like Globeleq’s investment into solar in Egypt, Konexa’s work to deploy renewable energy in Nigeria, I’m really pleased are creating jobs and driving clean growth across the continent. But we are determined to do more.

“CDC – as it was called – Our Government’s Finance Institution, has been rebranded as British International Investment, and we absolutely intend that will enhance UK’s Financing offer and drive growth and investment throughout Africa.

“UK Export Finance will continue to give buyers and project sponsors across Africa, access to the funding that they need to procure from the UK.

“2.3bn pounds of UKEF-backing, has helped British companies to deliver investment, growth and jobs across the UK and Africa in the last financial year alone,” he said.

Director-General of the World Trade Organization, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, expressed her displeasure with the level of investment input from the United Kingdom into the African region.

She stated that UK’s percentage investment to Africa needs to be stepped up while the continent’s capacity building is not being ignored but being paid serious attention.

Dr. Iweala noted that developing Africa’s infrastructure is relevant to actualizing the much-desired transition to renewables pushed for by the international community.

“We’ve got geothermal, we’ve got wind, we’ve got solar in abundance. So if you combine these few things, I think this is the part of building sustainable infrastructure for the continent. And some countries like Kenya, Ethiopia have already embarked on that.

“So this is what I mean by saying that when we are building new infrastructure, we can build it better and we can move towards renewables.

“There are challenges in the relationship, and I’ll mention some of them. Even, Africa’s share of UK Trade has been quite small – maybe about 2.4%, Pre-Pandemic. And now in the Pandemic, it moved slightly down to 2.1%. So the fact that Africa has such a small share of UK Trade, we need to look at that and see what can be done to improve that.

“Behind trade, we need a lot of capacity building on the continent, and so on. As you know, the UK has shrunk the percentage of the amount that will help with such aid to trade. That’s another challenge.

“So these are some of the challenges we need to look at,” she stated.

Also, Rt Hon Anne-Marie Trevelyan MP, the Secretary of State for International Trade who doubles as the President of the Board of Trade, disclosed that the United Kingdom was planning to support investors in Africa with the needed funding, technology and technical assistance, in order to develop companies in the region with an annual £8 billion investment, starting from 2025.

She noted that the objective of the UK’s support to Africa is to strengthen their bilateral ties and enhance transparency in their trade relations.

“Sustainable trade and investment are crucial to reducing inequality, to increasing the economy, including raising incomes and creating new high-quality jobs. So trade is in the heart of the UK Government’s international agenda.

“The UK’s Climate Investment Toolkit also known as ‘B3W (Build Back Better World)’ is aiming to build stronger and more transparent economic partnerships based on high-quality investments.

“So the ToolKit is aiming to mobilize up to 8bn pounds of economic investment a year for developing companies by 2025, offering tailored packages of finance, technical assistance, guarantees and technological transfer.

”And this will help developing countries to support investment in infrastructure that’s clean, sustainable and reliable.,” she noted.

The Rt Hon Trevelyan MP also talked about revolutionizing Africa into a green world through the Clean, Green Initiative of the UK Government as announced by the British Prime Minister at COP26 in Glasgow, last year.

“The UK’s B3W came to support the delivery of the UK’s Clean, Green Initiative which was announced by the Prime Minister at COP26 in Glasgow in November.

“This is going to help to scale up public and private investment in sustainable infrastructure to support clean economic growth and address the impact of climate change,” she said.

The recent Africa Investment Conference hosted by the British Prime Minister himself on Thursday January 20, was a virtual event aimed at providing a platform that connects the UK and African businesses together, to facilitate deal origination, networking opportunities, and raise visibility and impact in African opportunities within an impact and clean growth context.

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