UK government announces US$1.9 billion in initiatives at first UK-Africa Investment Summit
The UK government announced £1.5 billion (US$1.9 billion) worth of initiatives to boost trade and investment, create jobs and mobilize an additional £2.4 billion in private investment during the first UK-Africa Investment Summit. £400 million (US$523 million) of initiatives relate to the UK's international development assistance budget.
The summit was opened by the UK Prime Minister and attended by high-level representatives from 21 African countries, UK businesses representatives and government ministries, and members of the UK royal family. The summit was publicized as the start of a new, post-Brexit partnership with Africa based on trade, investment, shared values, and mutual interests.
Development assistance programs announced include:
- A new facility to develop local currency bonds in Africa with the World Bank Group’s International Finance Corporation (IFC);
- £200 million (US$262 million) to support basic trade infrastructure in southern Africa;
- £38 million (US$50 million) for a Climate Compatible Growth Fund to help African governments access UK expertise to enable a shift to more sustainable power sources;
- £45 million (US$59 million) to improve digital access and skills and support female employment; and
- New funding to boost the flow of private financing into African projects supporting girls’ education, healthcare and climate resilience.
The summit was criticized by some for its focus on the UK's trade opportunities, for lack of transparency, and for insufficient involvement of civil society. Critics also questioned whether it was appropriate for Department for International Development (DFID) to have invested a reported £15 million (US$20 million) in hosting the summit, given its focus on trade.
The Labour party’s shadow international development secretary, Dan Carden, wrote a highly critical piece in the New Internationalist magazine, noting that the summit indicates UK development assistance policy will not be driven by evidence of how to best fight global poverty, but by "naked free-market ideology and the interests of British business".