United Kingdom Pursuing Investment Projects in Africa – Modern Diplomacy

At least, during the past few years, including the Covid-19 pandemic period, the United Kingdom has consistently followed its planned agenda with African countries. The UK has an agenda and decisively been implementing all aspects. It describes “Africa as a reliable partner” during its historic UK-Africa Investment Summit held in January 2020. 
Monitoring developments after the summit, despite Covid-19 pandemic that has caused disruptions and lockdowns including in Africa, the United Kingdom has ultimately achieved some successes with Africa. With our broad and random research, we have noticed different priorities – all of which are supporting and strengthening economic partnerships in a number of countries on the continent. The significance of these is to help unlock opportunity, spread prosperity and thus transform lives in Africa. 
Judging from our monitoring research indicates that while the visible practical steps aim at building a more resilient continent, it is simultaneously helping to lay the foundation for sustainable future relations. The United Kingdom has displayed, not only heightened interests but also practically delivering on its plans to engage Africa.
As the UK Minister for Africa, MP Vicky Ford, explained “the overarching aim of all this work is to try to help, build the resilience of countries and to help them have a much more durable prosperity. For far too long, African countries have endured the fallout from global forces outside their control and the compelling tasks is to build more sustainable economies in African countries.”
Take back nearly a decade and half ago, the 2008 Global Economic Crisis, Africa suffered contagion from what happened in the global financial markets. And the African businesses and African governments were left with holes in their balance sheets from plummeting commodity prices.
“And right now, since Putin’s war against Ukraine, we’ve seen the most dramatic rise in global food, fuel and fertilizer prices in recent history. The consequences of Russia’s illegal aggression are hitting the poorest the hardest, and many of those most exposed are in Africa,” she underscored this undeniable fact – the level of consequences and impact on Africa as a result of Russia’s “special military operation” in Ukraine since late February.
For the past few months this year, African countries have complained about imports of Russian grain or fertilizers. African leaders have understood that it is Russia’s illegal blockade that is preventing Ukrainian grain from leaving that country, and it’s that blockade that is hurting global supplies.
So time and time again, African countries find themselves buffeted by these global forces and therefore the United Kingdom has set a priority to help African countries to insulate themselves against these pressures. Under the current circumstances, what has Russia done to help Africa, it only contributes to deepening social dissatisfaction throughout Africa.
Over the past 12 months, we have calculated or tally, at least, 14 African countries visited by the UK Minister for Africa, MP Vicky Ford. In most of these African countries, the partnership agenda is, in practical terms, working. It, at the same time, shows a huge difference between rhetoric and what it takes to deliver all that are listed on agenda with Africa. From our monitoring we can simply say that the United Kingdom is capitalizing on many qualities that make the continent such an attractive destination for investment and for new business there.
On our part, we have discovered a number of positive impact from UK’s policy initiatives. For example, in Kenya in East Africa, British investment of £75 million, through TradeMark East Africa, has eased trade by improving the capacity and efficiency of the Kenyan Ports Authority.
Back 10 years ago, before this investment, it took 10 days on average for goods arriving at Mombasa Port to then leave the port. That turnaround time is now just three and a half days. More goods moving more quickly means that the costs of trade are dramatically reduced, helping trade from Kenya, but also helping those who are importing into this country.
British investors are strategically leveraging unto trade platforms, working to support the creation of an African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) because trade integration is such a powerful tool to accelerate economic growth, create employment and alleviate or reduce poverty.
The United Kingdom has already trained over 190 African trade negotiators. It is further working closely with the Secretariat to cut red tape on cross-border trade and in March 2022, Minister Vicky Ford and AfCFTA’s Executive Head Wamkele Mene in London announced a package of assistance to get the Agreement up and running.
Concretely, it was the launching of a pilot project or programme – Standards Partnership programme in Ghana and Rwanda. This programme will strengthen supply chains, reduce barriers to trade by helping both countries meet global standards and regulations.
Then, there’s British International Investment (BII) – the UK’s Development Finance Institution – this continues to be a core part of the economic partnership, offering honest, reliable alternative to financing, to other forms of financing that may come with more strings attached.
Under the G7 presidency, BII pledged to work with its G7 counterparts and multilateral development banks to ramp up the volume of investment into the African private sector – with a collective target of a massive US$80 billion available till the year 2027.
BII will target 30% of all new investments into green projects in developing countries over the next 5 years. This will make it one of the world’s largest climate finance providers to African economies.
In Senegal, there is a noticeable transformative impact of the recent BII partnership to expand Dakar’s port infrastructure. This will be Senegal’s largest ever onshore foreign direct investment and will help to drive free trade and to drive economic growth.
In Tanzania, there is also what is referred to as AgDevCo, a UK-funded agribusiness investor. It has transformed ‘Africado’ into a thriving business. They are currently exporting avocados including to many British supermarkets. In doing this, it is boosting the livelihood of some 2,000 local smallholders.
Women’s entrepreneurship is a special priority to promote women’s empowerment and support their roles in society. Nigeria, located in West Africa, there are positive results as a result of the impact of £70 million invested in women entrepreneurs and their small businesses.
Our systematic monitoring further shows that the Malindi Solar in Kenya, the East Africa’s largest solar plant, built by the UK firm Globeleq using £32 million of BII financing. It’s is the sort of green investment British partners need to transition into renewable energy and help them to reduce their exposure to the increasingly unpredictable hydrocarbon markets.
All of these examples proved that development finance is a win-win for African countries and for those who conduct business there. The development finance is not enough, though. But these are very impressive and modest by the range of impactful projects export credit agency, UKEF, has supported across the continent.
UKEF’s very flexible financing rules recognize the global nature of modern supply chains. This flexibility has played a significant role in encouraging oversea buyers to source from UK businesses, whilst also building capacity and creating jobs within developing countries. British companies who use UKEF find these development benefits offer a major competitive advantage when bidding for contracts compared to some of the other external competitors.
Referencing back in January, the launched Growth Gateway, this is a new business support service to expand trade between the UK and Africa. So far, the Growth Gateway has connected more than 150 African and UK businesses. The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office has expressed readiness to build on this workable economic diplomacy with Africa. 
The UK will be collaborating with a newly launched IFC facility to develop more local currency bonds and supporting its Financial Sector Deepening Platform (FSDA) in expanding to 45 African countries. It is forming regulatory partnerships, such as the Mauritius Africa Fintech Festival and the Bank of England’s partnership with Morocco’s Bank Al-Maghrib.
Our research shows that 112 African companies listed on the London Stock Exchange (LSE) are worth more than £125 billion. Trade UK-Africa trade is approximately £48 billion. It sets a target of mobilizing more sustainable finance, which would include 600 British companies across the continent by CDC Group.
Summarizing, all these recounted in this arcticle demonstrates the United Kingdom’s achievements and further its practical commitment to partner with African countries in order to drive growth, trade and investment opportunities all across the continent. African leaders and Governments, the private sector operators are continously embracing these efforts. Creating resilient future through sustainable economic growth is at the heart of the United Kingdom.
From fighting to farming: Supporting peacebuilding in Mozambique
MD Africa Editor Kester Kenn Klomegah is an independent researcher and writer on African affairs in the EurAsian region and former Soviet republics. He wrote previously for African Press Agency, African Executive and Inter Press Service. Earlier, he had worked for The Moscow Times, a reputable English newspaper. Klomegah taught part-time at the Moscow Institute of Modern Journalism. He studied international journalism and mass communication, and later spent a year at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations. He co-authored a book “AIDS/HIV and Men: Taking Risk or Taking Responsibility” published by the London-based Panos Institute. In 2004 and again in 2009, he won the Golden Word Prize for a series of analytical articles on Russia’s economic cooperation with African countries.
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As Mozambique looks to move on from its violent past, a UN-led programme is supporting efforts to reintegrate former combatants, and give them a chance to lead productive, peaceful lives in their communities.
Benjamin* wants peace. A former RENAMO (Mozambican National Resistance) combatant, he dreams of working his field, in Cheringoma District, Sofala province, once again.
Like other former combatants in central Mozambique, he hopes to grow his own vegetables, maize, beans, and cassava, and possibly raise chickens and goats.
Just a few months ago, Benjamin became one of the thousands of former RENAMO fighters taking part in a “disarmament, demobilization and reintegration” (DDR) process.
DDR is a central component of the Maputo Accord, the peace agreement between the Government of Mozambique and RENAMO, which formally put an end to decades of conflict and insecurity, and brought communities together when it was signed in 2019.
Now, Benjamin is learning new skills alongside members of the community he left more than 20 years ago and reconnecting with his family.
“From the moment that my brothers and I started our reintegration into the community and society, I have a sense of relief and happiness. We are very happy to be back”, says Benjamin. “Since we came to the community, there have been no issues; I have been welcomed as a brother”.
Galício António, chief of the Nhamaze Administrative Outpost in Gorongosa District, confirms Benjamin’s sentiments, and the importance of reconciliation. “They are back, and they are producing again”, he declares. They are educating their children, they are integrating into social life, they are participating in the community”.
The UN’s role in the programme is to support the authorities in strengthening the inclusion of local voices in planning and budgeting exercises, as a solid foundation for promoting lasting peace, national reconciliation and inclusive sustainable development.
Through the programme, local authorities listen to the voices and needs of local communities in defining and selecting essential infrastructure and public services to be provided by the districts themselves to their communities, in order to promote sustainable local development and adaptation to climate change. 
Benjamin’s hopes are similar to those of other former combatants and communities affected by conflict in Mozambique: they want to build new, productive lives for themselves, their families, and their communities. By supporting these dreams in a practical way, the UN is helping them to create a better future for Mozambique.
“I am very happy; The community is happy” says Benjamin. “This peace must go on. This is our will”.
*Name has been changed.
The UN Ocean Conference (UNOC) co-organized by Portugal and Kenya from 27 June to 01 July 2022 in Lisbon, Portugal was a landmark ocean event for regrouping decision makers, innovators, private sector actors and stakeholders towards the implementation of the SDG Goal 14 and Aspiration 1.6 of Africa’s Agenda 2063, both related to the management of the Oceans, Seas and Marine Resources for Sustainable Development.
According to reports, the week-long conference brought together some 6,500 participants and was  opened by the Secretary-General of the United Nations António Guterres. The Secretary-General of the United Nations (UNSG or SG) is the Chief Administrative Officer of the United Nations and Head of the United Nations Secretariat. There were, among others, high-powered African representatives. 
In his speech, António Guterres has warned that unless nations overcome short-term territorial and resource interests the state of the oceans will continue to deteriorate. Secretary-General described “the artificial dichotomy” between jobs and healthy oceans as one of the main challenges and asked for strong political leadership, new partnerships and concrete steps. 
On behalf of Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson of the African Union (AU) Commission, Amb. Josefa Leonel Correia Sacko, Commissioner for Agriculture, Rural Development, Blue Economy and Sustainable Environment (ARBE) at the African Union (AU) Commission headed the AU delegation to the United Nations Ocean Conference 2022 (UNOC).
He was accompanied by Amb Fatima Kyari Mohammed, Permanent Observer of the African Union to the United Nations in New York (USA); Harsen Nyambe Nyambe, Director of Sustainable Environment and Blue Economy; and  Dr Bernice Mclean, Head of Blue Economy at AUDA-NEPAD in South-Africa, Representative from REC, and other staff of the AFrican Union Commission.
President of Kenya, H.E. Uhuru Kenyatta, and the President of Portugal, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, were elected by acclamation as the Presidents of the Conference with  Statements delivered by each President accordingly. On the margins of the UNOC, the meeting of the Committee of African Heads of State and Government on Climate Change (CAHOSCC) was also held, during which the African Union Commission delivered a strong signal on Africa’s readiness to protect and sustainably develop its ccean resources.
The AUC delegation to the conference showcased steps for promoting Africa’s blue economy and to send a strong signal on Africa’s readiness to protect and sustainably develop its ocean resources as well as its contribution to the global conversation on oceans by focusing on unlocking Africa’s potential for innovative, knowledge-based and high-revenue sectors while fostering sustainability and private sector activity, which further places emphasis on the integration of women, youth and Africa’s scientific community within the blue economy.
In addition, the AUC co-organized various side-events including two major Africa focused events: the first event co-organized with IOC-UNESCO on ‘Accelerating innovation, science and technology, and promoting the involvement of women and youth in Africa’s oceans and seas in the context of the ocean decade’ was held on 29th June. It touched on the need to address cultural norms and stereotypes on the one hand, and address resource gap on the other, and to strengthen women and youth’s participation in the blue economy. 
The second event focus on “Shaping a sustainable Blue Economy in Africa” co-organized with AUDA-NEPAD, was held on 30th June, and emphasized Africa’s vast amount of marine resources which are highly significant to global ecosystem services and need to be managed adequately for the benefits of the citizens.
The AUC also co-sponsored the following side events during three consecutive days:  
(i) ‘Blue innovation for multifunctional marine spatial planning’, together with the Stockholm Environment Institute and the Government of Sweden and Kenya on 28th June. It emphasized the importance of ensuring that Africa has access to and ownership of ocean data and ensure the need for Africa to develop its own Marine Spatial Planning that will aid to address data gaps; 
(ii) ‘Fostering international and regional cooperation in support of the sustainable development of the blue economy in LDCs, LLDCs and SIDS’, together with the International Seabed Authority, on 29th June; 
(iii) ‘Advancing women empowerment and leadership in marine scientific research to support inclusive sustainable ocean governance’, together with the International Seabed Authority on 30th June.
In addition, the AUC delivered a statement during the plenary, emphasizing the crucial role that the African continent must play in the global oceans agenda, considering the vast marine resources that it exerts sovereignty over.
With women and youth on board, the AUC indicates its readiness to protect and develop ocean resources. “Women and Youth represent Africa’s most underutilized assets, so the African Union Commission is committed to identifying ways to promote their integration fully in the conversation on blue wealth,”  AU Commissioner Josepha Sacko told the gathering.
Sacko informed that the AUC is in the process of implementing the blue economy, in various sectors, highlighting that “…we need to enhance traditional ocean-based sectors like fisheries and tourism so that they contribute to the livelihoods of coastal communities that rely on them. But, at the same time, Africa needs to move to a knowledge-based model of developing ocean science and ocean-based technologies. We have the ideas, vision, and ambition to do so.”
Further at the plenary session, the Group of African States, emphasized that Africa is determined to sustainably harness the vast potential of its maritime domain and accelerate economic transformation and opportunities provided by the oceans. To realize sustainable ocean-based development, the African Group stresses the need to promote collective efforts to address inherent financial and infrastructure gaps preventing the realization of the full potential of African marine resources.  
The African Group further emphasized that oceans are a common heritage to mankind, including the African landlocked States. Achieving Sustainable Development Goal 14 (life below water) and conservation of ocean and marine ecosystems will require bold and ambitious partnership, mobilization of significant financial resources, access to technologies and innovations, capacity-building and effective governance arrangements.
Furthermore, the delegation along with the key partners including the RECs, NGOs, WIMAfrica, Fisheries and Aquaculture Associations participated in various other side events and engaged with innovators, policy makers and stakeholders on a range of issues including conservation, sustainable ocean economies and capacity building, as well as institutional and policy making and implementation, NGO’s and research and civil society organizations, legal instruments.
On 1st July, the side event organized by the Republic of Mauritius ‘Science Consideration for Protection of Marine Ecosystems in Chagos Archipelago’ which aimed at advocating on the complete decolonization of the Chagos archipelago. It was an opportunity seized by Office of the Legal Counsel the African Union to reiterate its unconditional support to the Government of Mauritius until the completion of decolonization of Chagos is achieved and enjoyed by the Citizens of Mauritius in accordance with well-established principles of international law and the pertinent decisions and Resolutions of Organization of African Unity (OAU)/African Union (AU) and United Nations.
The United Nations attempts at addressing ways by which the private sector provides practical solutions to address the problems such as by improving energy efficiency, waste management and introducing market-based tools to shift investment, subsidy and production; made it necessary to mobilize actions for the conservation and sustainable use of the oceans, seas and marine resources by establishing the United Nations Ocean Conference. 
Democratic and responsible governance is needed to counter ongoing insecurity in West Africa and the Sahel, the UN Special Representative for the subregion told the Security Council on Thursday. 
Khatir Mahamat Saleh Annadif was presenting the latest report of the UN Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS), which he heads, covering developments over the past six months in areas such as politics, security and human rights. 
Mr. Annadif highlighted some of the dichotomies across a vast region that continues to “develop at different rhythms”. While citizens in some countries are freely exercising their right to vote, elsewhere “military stakeholders” are trying to dominate the political space. 
“National dialogues are underway in many countries to consolidate democratic governance at the same time that across large parts of the Sahel, men and women are leaving their land, fleeing to safety, and to ensure that their children can receive an education,” he said. 
Addressing insecurity, Mr. Annadif said it was “no longer a secret to anyone” that extremist groups and criminals are exploiting weaknesses that have been exacerbated by often inadequate State structures. 
Extremist violence is moving southward, he reported, and has gone from being a phenomenon of isolated incidents to a very real threat in coastal countries. He cited the example of Togo, where a state of emergency has been declared in the north.  
“There is no magic potion to provide an effective rebuttal to this problem of insecurity,” said Mr. Annadif, speaking in French. 
“What we need, rather, is democratic and responsible governance, including the setting up of decentralized administrations which can provide solutions to the day-to-day needs of the population while respecting the social contract for participation, and the mutual commitments between the Government and the citizens.” 
The envoy said several countries “are successfully reinforcing foundations of democratic governance”, including The Gambia and Senegal, which recently held local and legislative elections. 
“Furthermore, there is a process of dialogue in a number of countries. This creates political consensus that represents an opportunity to reinforce social cohesion,” he added, referring to Nigeria, ahead of elections scheduled for next year. 
Mr. Annadif said engagement by the UN and regional bloc ECOWAS has also helped to reduce political tensions in Sierra Leone, which will hold elections next June. 
He has also been in contact with the transitional authorities in Burkina Faso and Guinea, stressing the need to return to constitutional order as soon as possible. 
Meanwhile, military authorities are facing difficulties in addressing the worsening security situation in the Sahel. 
Mr. Annadif reported that as of May, the number of civilian victims of extremist violence in the central Sahel has surpassed the total figure for 2021. 
“Civilians have been caught in the crossfire between armed groups fighting for supremacy, as well as in anti-terrorist actions carried out by the national security and defence forces,” he said. 
“The information that we all receive on massacres of unarmed and innocent civilian populations, including women and children, convey the tragedy that is unfurling in this part of the world.” 
The violence has had an impact on the humanitarian situation at a time when West Africa is experiencing an “unprecedented” food crisis.  Across the so-called G5 Sahel countries – Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, and Niger – some 12.7 million people are facing food insecurity, a 45 per cent increase over last year. 
Last month, Mali withdrew from the G5 Sahel and its Joint Force on counter terrorism, and Mr. Annadif said there are military redeployments at the moment that jeopardize security provision. 
The UN official continues to advocate with ECOWAS and other partners in favour of the Accra Initiative, a 2017 plan on preventing instability from spreading to coastal countries. 
They are currently finalizing discussions towards establishing a secretariat, and contributing to capacity building through the UN Office on Counter-Terrorism (UNOCT). 
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