Boris Johnson may have spoken disparagingly of Africa in the past but the British Prime Minister is cosying up to the continent as January 31 draws nearer with every sign that this time, unlike all the other Brexit deadlines that were dead in the water, the UK will leave the EU.
And although it will take at least till the end of the year for Johnson’s government to tick all the exit boxes, and although like a true politician he declared his love for a certain part of the world at a conference dealing with that part of the world – an Africa Investment Summit in this case – Johnson’s serenade for the continent, performed in London yesterday, rang with a certain cadence of legitimacy.
Backed by avowed intentions from his government to spend millions of pounds in African industrial and infrastructural development, Johnson has indicated that major benefits are practically guaranteed for entities eager to trade with an EU-free UK.
Additionally, he has elected not to attend the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, preferring instead to woo African leaders, many of them from countries over which the UK used to have colonial sway.
In an article looking at existing UK-Africa business relations, the BBC wrote that International Development Secretary, Alok Sharma, “is, as one would expect, very optimistic saying that Britain’s relations with Africa will be ‘turbo-charged’, with trade, business and investment deals being struck left, right and centre.”
British International Trade Secretary, Liz Truss, waded into matters saying the UK’s split from the EU “will allow businesses to keep trading after Brexit without any barriers”.
Expectations are furthermore that South Africa, regarded as a solidifying presence in the UK’s African mercantile relations, will maintain its dominating trade presence, last recorded at around $7 billion.
The country’s closest rival in this respect was Nigeria, with data indicating trade at just over $2 billion.
Sounds like a lot?
Consider the $250 billion in goods and services that the US trades with the UK.
But that’s probably a case of comparing apples with pears.
Moreover, the jury is very much out about what could happen to the mighty pound once Johnson enforces his vision of a “global Britain”, free from the fetters of European economic interference. – Eugene Goddard