from NICK WILSON in London, England
LONDON – THE United Kingdom (UK) will abolish its policy on climate change, enhance investment in renewable energy and mobilise private sector investment in quality infrastructure in Africa, as it deepens economic ties with the continent.
These announcements follow the oversubscribed opening ceremony of the 2020 UK-Africa Investment Summit, attended by dignitaries and delegates from 16 African countries on Monday.
African leaders urged the UK to make the most of the unmatched investment opportunities.
Earlier, British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, made a major announcement on the UK’s policy on climate change.
“From today, the British government will no longer provide any new direct development assistance for thermal coal mining or coal power plants overseas,” Johnson said.
His declaration aligns with the African Development Bank’s (AfDB’s) green agenda aimed at increasing investment in renewable energy.
Akinwumi Adesina, AfDB President Adesina announced the strategy last year at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) that the bank was moving away from investing in coal.
Overall, Johnson made the case for bigger investments in Africa and called for increased and renewed partnership between the UK and Africa.
“Look around the world today and you will swiftly see that the UK is not only the obvious partner of choice, we’re also very much the partner of today, of tomorrow and decades to come,” he said in his opening address.
Alok Sharma, UK Secretary of State for International Development, announced five partnerships to mobilise private sector investment in quality infrastructure on the continent.
“The City of London can play a role in mobilising resources for Africa,” Sharma said.
President Nana Akufo-Addo of Ghana concurred, saying London could play a significant role in bridging Africa’s huge infrastructure gap.
“…and, LSE (London Stock Exchange) can be a pivot in the new relationship with the continent (Africa). Indeed, 1 in 4 consumers will live in Africa by 2030,” Akufo-Addo said.
Africa is also home to eight of the 15 fastest-growing economies in the world. By 2030, 42 percent of the world’s youth will be African and will constitute an incredible workforce and potential consumers.
Kenyan President, Uhuru Kenyatta who rang the opening bell at the London Stock Exchange (LSE) marking the launch of Kenya’s first green bond at the exchange, made the case for innovative and sustainable investments in energy infrastructure.
He said this first-ever sovereign green bond of $41,45 million will be used to build environmentally-friendly student accommodation in Kenya.
“We all must think out of the box in terms of energy…to ensure we produce more green energy,” Kenyatta said.
Another major announcement was the $80 million AfDB – Department for International Development infrastructure financing partnership.
Adesina said the continent’s $68 -to-$108 billion infrastructure investment gap per year was massive, but depended on how it was looked at.
“Either the cup is half full or half empty. To us, that is a $68-$108 billion opportunity,” Adesina said.
He added that the issue of risk in Africa was exaggerated and even lower than Latin America.
Yet, funds are not being channeled into Africa.
“There are $8 trillion of assets under management in London, but only 1 percent is invested in Africa,” Adesina said.
President Mohamed Ould Cheikh el Ghazouani of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania, said the blue ocean economy and substantial reforms currently underway to attract foreign investors.
“We have reinforced security along our coasts,” el Ghazouani said.
Other measures include the establishment of a Council on Investment.
“These huge efforts are showing tremendous results and it is giving comfort to investors,” the Mauritian leader noted.
The UK-Africa Investment Summit was the first of its kind hosted by the UK government. At the 2019 forum held in Johannesburg, South Africa, deals valued at $40,1 billion secured investment interest.
“Africa has a fabulous future,” Sharma said.
– CAJ News