Business

UK to Host Africa Investment Conference in the New Year

The UK Department for International Trade has announced it will host the Africa Investment Conference on 20 January 2021, bringing together UK and African businesses for a one-day virtual event to explore the opportunities for partnership and investment.

The conference comes one year after the UK-Africa Investment Summit hosted in London by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, where 27 trade and investment deals worth £6.5bn and commitments worth £8.9bn were announced.

The UK government announced this Friday that businesses will be able to discuss “emerging and relevant themes around doing business” in Africa, and “connect to investment opportunities” across the African continent, all in the context of a “challenging global economic outlook.”

Other super powers including China, Russia and United States have since organized similar conferences to deepen commercial ties with Africa.

Africa is the world’s second fastest-growing region, experiencing average annual GDP growth of 4.6 percent for the period from 2000 and 2016.

For the current five-year period until 2022, Africa’s real GDP is projected to grow at 3.9% annually.

The western world see Africa as a major destination for their exports.

In 2019, African countries ratified the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), creating the largest free trade area since the establishment of the World Trade Organization.

The free trade area which commences on January 1, 2021, is expected to help boost intra-African trade and also boast of a combined business and consumer spending of $6.7 trillion by 2030.

UK contractors Lagan Group has been spearheading construction works at Namanve Industrial Park.

Estimates suggest the project will create 25,484 direct jobs in the construction phase, a further 39,800 in the short term and over 200,000 jobs in the long term.

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Officials said the Africa Investment Conference will be a platform for attendees to hear directly from UK companies about the opportunities and challenges of investing in and doing business across Africa.

Firms are expected to learn more about the United Kingdom’s new trade arrangements with Africa and support offered by the UK Government to business and investors.

The event will also explore how inclusive, sustainable and resilient investment can serve to help countries across the continent transition to a cleaner, greener economy and support recovery from the impact of coronavirus.

Driven by the insights of the recently established Africa Investors Group (a grouping of some of the UK’s largest investors in Africa), the conference will focus around four key sectors of activity – sustainable infrastructure, renewable energy, financial and professional services and agriculture and agri-tech.

January will see new trade agreements coming into force for the UK with 14 African partners with the prospect of more countries to follow, while 35 African partners will receive preferential access to the UK thanks to UK’s trade presences scheme.

The development of the UK’s new trade arrangements alongside Africa’s own Continental Free Trade Agreement can unleash new opportunities for African and UK businesses.

UK Minister for Investment, Gerry Grimstone said: “Despite the current global economic context, the UK’s ambition to be Africa’s investment partner of choice has never been stronger. Growing investment relationships will be central in helping economies recover and build back better from the disruption caused by Coronavirus.”

He added: “Africa’s economic potential and investment opportunities are huge, and our partnership will help ensure UK and African businesses are able to capitalise on trade and investment opportunities, now and in the future.”

UK has been working to boost business trade with Africa which will on January 1 start trading under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), which commits countries to remove tariffs on 90 percent of goods, progressively liberalize trade in services, and address a host of other non-tariff barriers.

If successfully implemented, the agreement will create a single African market of over a billion consumers with a total GDP of over $3 trillion. This will make Africa the largest free trade area in the world.

It is projected, through the sole removal of tariffs on goods, to increase the value of intra-African trade by between 15 percent (or $50 billion) and 25 percent (or $70 billion), depending on liberalization efforts, in 2040, compared to a situation with no AfCFTA in place.

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