The UK in Africa: facts and figures

In depth
This article is part of the dossier: UK Africa – towards a new partnership

By David Whitehouse
Posted on Thursday, 16 January 2020 10:23

Unilever are a large UK investor in Nigeria. Image: production at the Unilever factory in Lagos, Nigeria January 18, 2018. REUTERS/Afolabi Sotunde

As political and business leaders gather in London on 20th January to discuss the next steps in relations between the continent and the UK, here are the facts and figures underpinning the relationship

The UK’s Foreign Direct Investment in Africa stood at approximately £39bn in 2018.

  • By 2022, CDC the UK’s Development Finance Institution, aims to make up to £2bn new investments across Africa
  • Since 2002, the UK’s Private Infrastructure Development Group has invested over £1.95bn into 146 infrastructure projects across Africa.

There are more African countries with shares listed and trading in London than on any other international stock exchange.

The UK government’s Department for International Trade (DIT) Africa has more than 100 staff located across 23 of Africa’s 54 countries. This represents a nearly 20% increase in personnel in the region since 2018.

  • Over the past 12 months, trade between Africa and the UK increased by 7.7% and is currently worth nearly £34.2bn.

Last year, DIT Africa helped UK companies secure business that generated £1.2bn of value back to the UK economy. UK Export Finance covered £600m of exports on the continent.

  • The DIT focuses on adding value for UK companies through country and sector expertise.
  • The DIT supports UK companies exporting to or investing in Africa. It also focuses on the business environment. This includes trading arrangements, as well as market-access barriers.
  • The DIT operates across all sectors, but focuses particularly on infrastructure, oil and gas, mining, agribusiness, defence and security, renewable energy, financial and professional services, healthcare, education and skills.

The UK is helping to use aid funding to alleviate poverty and also address the UK’s prosperity objectives.

DIT Africa has been seeking to replicate the effects of the current EU Economic Partnership Agreements and Association Agreements with African countries.

To date, the UK has transitioned four of these agreements:

  • the Southern African Customs Union plus Mozambique;
  • the Eastern and Southern Africa countries of Mauritius,
  • Seychelles, Madagascar and Zimbabwe;
  • an Association Agreement with Tunisia;
  • and an Association Agreement with Morocco.

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