Economist editor argues UK should spend more on diplomacy than development in Africa
The editor-at-large of the Economist, Xan Smiley, has written an article for The Spectator, a current affairs magazine, arguing that the UK should increase its spending on diplomacy rather than development assistance to Africa in order to improve the UK’s influence over the continent.
Smiley, critical of the UK’s approach in the recent elections in Zimbabwe, laments the decline of effective UK diplomacy on the continent, citing the Foreign Office’s shrinking budget as a main factor. She notes that the Foreign Office's budget of £1.4 billion (US$1.9 billion) has shrunk more than 40 per cent since 2010, while Britain’s development budget stands at £13.4 billion (US$18.1 billion). Smiley calls for the Department for International Development (DFID) to be put more firmly under Foreign Office control in the future and makes the case for redirecting some of its budget to the Foreign office, noting that if just a tenth of the its budget was redirected toward diplomacy, it would double the Foreign Office’s budget.