The UK held the second virtual Africa Investment Conference on Thursday, January 20, 2022, to boost economic cooperation with African nations and enhance its role as the continent’s investment partner of choice for greener, climate-friendly projects.
Secretary of State for International Trade, Anne-Marie Trevelyan, hosted the one-day virtual event which aimed to unlock millions of pounds of new investment, especially in clean energy industries in both the UK and across Africa.
In a “virtual fireside talk” with World Trade Organisation (WTO) Director General, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the Trade Secretary said sustainable trade and investment are crucial for reducing global inequality, improving economies, raising incomes and creating jobs.
Trevelyan said: “Two years on from the inaugural UK-Africa Investment Summit, the UK’s ambition to be Africa’s investment partner of choice has never been stronger. The continent has huge economic potential, and our continued partnership will help businesses capitalise on investment opportunities, supporting high value jobs and boost enterprise in every part of the UK.
“This year’s Conference focuses on the importance of resilient, sustainable investment to support Africa as it pivots towards a more environmentally-friendly growth trajectory, and I look forward to working with leaders from the continent as they continue on this path to a greener future.”
Her Majesty’s Acting Trade Commissioner (HMTC) for Africa, Alastair Long, said: “In 2020, at the UK-Africa Investment Summit, the Prime Minister set out the UK’s ambition to be Africa’s investment partner of choice. Two years on from the UK-AIS, we continue to bring life to this ambition. Last year, we launched an online Investment Deal Room to provide a platform for African projects to be showcased to UK investors. The Deal Room has already published over £350m of vetted and investable opportunities to date.
“Clean growth is at the heart of the UK’s trade agenda, and with Egypt hosting COP27, the second Africa Investment Conference is an opportunity to explore inclusive, sustainable and resilient investment opportunities that can serve to help Africa transition to a cleaner and greener growth trajectory.”
Showcasing investment opportunities across Africa, including Nigeria
Following the UK’s hosting of COP26, this year’s conference explored how investment can serve to help Africa transition to a cleaner and greener growth trajectory. As a sign of the growing partnership between the two regions in the clean growth space, UK sustainable battery technology firm Aceleron has secured an investment deal with Mobility 54 Investment SAS, a subsidiary of Toyota Group, as part of its £5m Series A funding round to accelerate the development and use of sustainable batteries in Africa.
As a priority market and investment partner, Nigeria showcased three projects to potential investors. The Eko Atlantic Group showcased their planned development covering infrastructure, healthcare, education and tech; Lagos State Waterways Authority discussed utilising Lagos waterways (for passenger and freight transport); and the project developers for the 255-hectare Abuja Industrial Park Project highlighted opportunities for manufacturing, agricultural and consumer goods distribution companies and their plans to create 40,000 new jobs.
Facilitating UK-Africa trade & investment
To enhance UK-Africa partnerships, the UK launched on January 22, a new Growth Gateway – a digital tool to link African and British businesses to UK Government trade, finance and investment services and opportunities.
The service provides practical online support to businesses in Africa that want to export to and invest in the UK, and businesses in the UK that want to export to and invest in Africa, backed up by a team of trade and investment specialists.
It follows an increased effort across government to facilitate UK-Africa trade, including that of UK Export Finance (UKEF). The UK’s export credit agency has significantly increased support for markets in Africa in the past year from approximately £600 million in 2018-19 to over £2.3 billion in 2020-21, supporting a range of infrastructure projects in West Africa; helping to build major roads and bridges as well as providing medical and IT equipment, design services and environmental and social work.
UKEF has capacity to provide further support for UK trade in West Africa, with up to £3 billion available in Senegal, £2 billion in Cote D’Ivoire, and up to £2 billion in Nigeria.
Minister for Africa, Vicky Ford, said: “The UK is deepening our economic ties with countries across Africa. This conference is a fantastic opportunity to bring British and African businesses together to unlock millions of pounds of new investment, especially in clean energy industries in both the UK and across Africa.
“There is so much more that the UK and African countries can do together. Growth Gateway will make it easier than ever for African and British businesses to access the support they need to boost two-way trade and investment.”
Minister for Investment, Gerry Grimstone, said: “We want more British firms to sell to the world, taking advantage of new opportunities that present themselves in growing markets like this. The potential is huge. This government has the finance available to back British firms going global in West Africa, supporting growth and development in the region and helping communities and local economies to thrive.”