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‘The mega-cities of the future are in Africa’ – Emma-Wade-Smith

By Nicholas Norbrook
Posted on Friday, 17 January 2020 13:10

We are in a period of recalibration for Africa in its relationship with various foreign powers.

The political consolidation demonstrated by the African continental Free trade Zone was given yet more substance, when the outgoing EU commission agreed for trade talks with the African Union, continental body, to continental body.

New partners have emerged: the last 12 months have seen a Russia-Africa Summit, and a China-Africa summit. This year there will be soon be a Turkey-Africa Summit, and a France-Africa Summit, and a US-Africa summit is mooted.

Will African countries be able to pull off what Steven Chan calls, ‘diplomatic arbitrage’ ?

The UK’s own diplomacy is changing, too, as it as it prepares to leave the European Union.

  • The UK is an unabashed promoter of competition, and has been rejigging its diplomatic engagement with the continent to a more economic footing, especially
  • The CDC, a financing body run by the UK’s Department for International Development is putting several billion pounds worth of new investment into the continent.
  • And on Monday 20th of January, the inaugural UK-Africa Investment summit kicks off, another key plank of Britain’s new economic diplomacy.

There is greater coordination now with UK Export Finance, the CDC and other bodies aimed at building trade links between the UK and Africa; thanks to a newly-created position, that of Her Majesty’s Trade Commissioner for Africa.

Our business editor David Whitehouse caught up with HMTC Emma Wade-Smith at her Johannesburg office in November.

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