The British Prime Minister, Theresa May, has begun her three-nation African tour in South Africa where she has held a series interactive session with school children, business leaders and the country’s president Cyril Ramaphosa in Cape Town.
Speaking in Cape Town, May focused on increased international cooperation for global development, building stronger, more stable African economies as well as a UK Ambition to be Africa’s number one investor among the G7 by 2022, AFP writes.
“By 2022, I want the UK to be the G7’s number one investor in Africa, with Britain’s private sector companies taking the lead,” May told business leaders in Cape Town.
Her tour of South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya — May’s first to Africa since becoming premier in 2016 — is seen as an effort to reinforce Britain’s global ambitions after Brexit.
“I want to create a new partnership between the UK and our friends in Africa built around shared prosperity and shared security,” she added.
Amid fears of an uncertain future among ‘remainers’ May suggested to travelling British press that a no-deal Brexit would not be a disaster for Britain and played down warnings of serious consequences for the UK economy.
On Tuesday, she announced a new four-billion-pound ($5 billion/4.4 billion euro) Africa investment programme, and added that Britain would host an African investment summit next year, in addition to opening new diplomatic missions across the continent.
May also presented President Cyril Ramaphosa with the bell from the troopship Mendi, which sank in the Channel in 1917 drowning more than 600 mainly South African troops who were set to join the Allied forces fighting in World War I.
It was the worst maritime disaster in South Africa’s history and became a symbol of its Great War sacrifice.
The bell was given to a BBC reporter in 2017 following an anonymous tip, and Ramaphosa described the gift of the bell as “like returning their souls back to the land of their birth.”
Ramaphosa, who welcomed Britain’s role in his efforts to secure $100 billion of foreign investment to revive South Africa’s sluggish economy, added that he hoped Britain would soon conclude Brexit negotiations in a manner “that restores stability to economic and financial markets… as their exit also has an impact on our economy.”
The PM May was expected to later visit Robben Island where former president Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for decades to commemorate the 100th anniversary of his birth, before she heads to Nigeria on Wednesday for meetings with President Muhammadu Buhari in the capital Abuja and with victims of modern slavery in Lagos.