Africa is on the cusp of unmatched economic transformation and the United Kingdom must engage in a “partnership of change,” African Development Bank President (AfDB) Akinwumi Adesina has urged investors in the UK.
Adesina made the call on Tuesday while delivering a keynote address at the UK Parliamentary Symposium.
The Symposium was co-organized by the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Africa with the Royal African Society, Oxford Brookes University, and the Trade Justice Network under the theme, “UK-Africa Trade and Brexit.”
“The Africa of the 21st century is very different. The Africa of the 21st century is new and more confident,” he said.
The Bank’s chief stressed that Africa and the UK should be significant trading partners.
“The reality, however, is that UK’s trade with Africa is trending downwards. From a $49 billion peak in 2012, trade decreased to $30.6 billion in 2018,” he added.
Adesina also explained that the decline in UK trade and investment in Africa is against the backdrop of a projected business-to-business and consumer-to-consumer expenditures of $5.6 trillion by 2020, and a food and agriculture market worth $1 trillion by 2030.
“The fact that we are having this conversation in the UK Parliament is a great start. The convening of this Summit by Prime Minister Boris Johnson is an even greater start,” he said.
Adesina also used his engagement at the House of Commons to share Africa’s investment opportunities which “speak for themselves.”
He further explained that trading under the African Continental Free Trade Agreement represents a market of more than 1.3 billion people and a gross domestic product of $2.5 trillion, making it the world’s largest free trade area since the establishment of the World Trade Organization.
Also speaking earlier on Tuesday morning at the UK-Africa Investment Summit Sustainable Infrastructure Forum, Adesina prayed investors to tap into opportunities in the continent.
“Just under two decades ago, Africa had fewer telephones than Manhattan in New York. Today, Africa has over 440 million cell phone subscribers.
“Returns on digital infrastructure are very high as the continent expands broadband infrastructure to boost connectivity and improve services,” he said.
The Forum, which was organized by the Department of International Development (DFID) and Her Majesty’s Trade Commissioner for Africa, seeks to facilitate new investment and commercial opportunities for the UK as well as to promote quality infrastructure to deliver better services to African citizens.