Chris BishopBy Chris Bishop|November 1, 2022|3 Minutes|In Opinion


African links to power in London  so what?

Thousands of words have been written over the last  week about Rishi Sunak becoming the first British Prime Minister with parents born in Africa. True enough, Sunak may have been born in the English port of Southampton, but his father, a doctor, was born in Kenya; his mother, a pharmacist, was born in Tanzania.

To all the thousands of words dedicated to this, I add two more: who cares?

Firstly, I don’t care about the origins of any person on earth who is set to do a government job; all I care about is that they have the skill, determination, and integrity to do it. If they do, I don’t care whether they are from  Toronto or Timbuktu.

Secondly, thinkers should be asking where Sunak will drive Britain’s Africa policy in the 21st century.

Britain is soul searching, post-Brexit, looking for its role in the world. Not only its role as a former coloniser in Africa, but it must also take into account its diminishing coffers in hard economic times. Sunak is well placed having worked as an analyst in the financial world as well as being the country’s Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Britain is still the third largest donor to Africa – handing over $3.9 billion, of taxpayers’ money, in aid every year. That is more than a tenth of what Britain spends on its defense budget; so you can see why there is political pressure to cut this aid budget as Britain struggles to balance the books.

What is concerning is that trade between Britain and the 16 African nations, it has dealt with, is diminishing. It peaked at  $43 billion, in 2012, but dropped to $14 billion in 2020.

That is what Africa needs from the richer northern hemisphere – trade not aid.

Britain is the second largest foreign direct investor in Africa, sinking $66 billion into the continent in 2019, mainly into oil, gas, mining, and financial services.

This is where Sunak needs to drive foreign policy; more investment and trade – not aid. He should make it easier for private investors to put their money into Africa and repatriate the profits. He should run roadshows looking for investment opportunities with the continent’s talented entrepreneurs.

The United States and Europe tend to see Africa as a security risk, rather than a business opportunity.

An opportunity is what it is. Rare and rich resources, a young enterprising population, and innovation could be the envy of the world.

Sunak over to you.






Picture Ref: