The UK and Africa will continue to build their strong trading and investment partnership, according to the UK’s Minister for Africa James Duddridge.
In remarks during the UK-hosted online Africa Investment Conference, held on Wednesday. It was the first major international investment conference launched by the UK as an independent trading nation.
“The UK and Africa will continue to build a strong trading and Investment Partnership, firstly because we have shared values,” Duddridge said, “We also believe in free trade, as well as celebrating the force for good that is the Africa Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement.”
He added that he met with AfCFTA Secretary-General Wamkele Mene last week, to discuss the huge impact of intra-Africa trade, as well as bilateral and global trade.
“We increasingly recognise and value the importance of our natural environment in which the African continent is so rich, so we must work together to build back better and greener from [the novel coronavirus pandemic] COVID-19,” Duddridge explained.
The UK’s hosting of the COP26 conference is important and will provide particular opportunities for business in tackling climate change.
“We need to look beyond the pandemic to the growth of the continent beyond pure development, and look to the private sector to be the driver of growth across the continent,” he concluded.
He mentioned that 2020 has been an incredibly challenging year both for the UK and Africa. Before COVID-19, the world was seeing countries such as Ethiopia, Rwanda, Ghana, Benin, and Cote d’Ivoire grow well in excess of 7% GDP per year growth. A total of 15 other countries grew at levels above 5%.
“What we want to do is get countries back on track to those levels and beyond,” Duddridge said, “There is a significant potential across Africa. For me, African Growth is absolutely critical and has direct benefit both to the continent and to the UK, he noted.