The U.K. Plans To Be The Largest G7 Investor In Africa, Faces Competition

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Written by Peter Pedroncelli
investor in Africa
To become the biggest G7 investor in Africa, the U.K. would have to invest 75 percent more capital to top the U.S. and 90 percent more to top France. Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson, front center, hosts the UK Africa Investment Summit in London on Monday, Jan. 20, 2020. Image: Ben Stansall/Pool via AP

The U.K. plans to become the largest Group of Seven (G7) investor in Africa by 2022 but it has a long way to go to achieve that goal and a number of other countries standing in its way. 

As things stand, the U.K. would have to invest 75 percent more capital to top the U.S. and 90 percent more to top France, ForeignPolicy reports.

The G7 is an international intergovernmental economic organization consisting of the seven largest advanced economies in the world — the U.S., Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the U.K. — according to the International Monetary Fund.

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson reaffirmed the U.K.’s investment objective while playing host to African leaders and representatives at a U.K.-Africa summit in London on Jan. 20, IOL reported.

The U.K. officially left the European Union on Jan. 31 and is now looking to sign new trade deals globally post-Brexit. Africa is attractive in this regard as the continent is home to eight of the world’s fastest-growing economies.

So far, the U.K. has signed trade deals with 11 African countries, covering 43 percent of the country’s total trade with Africa.

Britain’s advances in African investment come at a time when the U.S. is pulling back from Africa. 

President Donald Trump is considering extending his controversial travel ban to include Nigeria, and he is yet to pay a visit to Africa during his time as president.

In 2018, the U.K. invested $17.7 billion in Africa while fellow G7 countries the U.S. and France invested $30.8 billion and $34.1 billion respectively, according to Brookings

China is by far Africa’s largest trading partner, investing $72.2 billion in 2018, but the country does not form part of the G7 and is therefore not considered competition in the U.K.’s objective to become Africa’s top G7 investor. 

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France is also focused on Africa and its fast-growing economies, making the U.K.’s investment objectives in Africa all the more difficult to achieve.

French President Emmanuel Macron personally visited Africa nine times since his election victory in 2017 and is planning his own Africa summit in 2020.

Germany and Italy have increased their investments in Africa in recent years while Japan also held an African summit in 2019 with 20 African presidents in attendance

The U.S., which pledged $61 billion in 2013, has since reduced investments to $30.8 billion in 2018 — though the country remains the largest investor by the number of projects in Africa with 463 projects compared to 329 for France and 286 for the U.K.