Read time: 3 minutes

Africa's chance to shine at UK-Africa Summit 2020

Africa's chance to shine at UK-Africa Summit 2020

South African president Cyril Ramaphosa, along with several counterparts representing at least 21 countries from Africa, are scheduled to attend the UK-Africa Summit on 20 January 2020, and will have the opportunity to engage existing investors and those still considering doing business on- and with the continent.

According to the UK Department for International Trade (DIT) the UK is already one of the largest foreign investors in Africa with £38-billion of investment stock.

In 2018 trade between the UK and Africa increased by 7.7% and in 2019 the DIT Africa (with approximately 95 staff across 23 African markets) helped UK companies secure business that generated £1.15-billion of value back to the UK economy.

UK trade officials stress the significance of tech innovation and say it forms the foundation of trade with Africa.

Her Majesty's Trade Commissioner for Africa at the UK Department for International Trade, Emma Wade-Smith OBE said the Department is looking to increase exports and encourage UK companies to be more active globally – and specifically turn their attention to markets like Africa.

The UK believes Africa, being home to eight of the fastest growing economies globally, holds more investment opportunity going forward – especially within key sectors like ICT, financial services, education, healthcare, manufacturing and agriculture.

Speaking to ITWeb Africa ahead of the Summit, Wade-Smith said the opportunities are 'ripe' and the UK believes it can offer ethical, sustainable, green and high quality investment to capitalise on these opportunities and build on its existing amount of investment.

She said that while £38-billion worth of investment sounds like a lot, in terms of the UK's global direct investment overseas, the figure represents just 3%.

"Recognising the importance of foreign investment and sustainable high quality investment, we think there is more that we can do to bring more of that UK investment money, the funds and the capital that sits in the city of London and elsewhere in the UK, to Africa to take up the growing range of investment opportunities that we see."

According to Wade-Smith, the Summit is a 'spotlight moment' during which stakeholders can connect investment ambition with investment opportunities.

"So we really wanted to showcase the opportunities and drive that investment and change peoples' mindsets. Those companies that are already aware of-and active in Africa absolutely get it, they are passionate, they usually end up being here for the long-term and they're committed and they adapt their business models to do business Africa in a way that really works for both sides. What we see is that are too many companies that aren't thinking about Africa."

And this connection and awareness is what countries like South Africa are counting on.

In January 2020 South African electricity public utility Eskom has dominated the country's headlines for ongoing loadshedding.

A Bloomberg report published by Fin24 says the World Bank has cut its economic growth forecast for South Africa to below 1% for 2020, citing electric supply concerns.

"It now expects the economy to expand by 0.9% this year, the Washington-based lender said Wednesday in its Global Economic Prospects report," states Bloomberg.

Fin24 also published a report detailing a series of Tweets posted by South Africa's Finance Minister Tito Mboweni warning the country that unless it pushed ahead with economic reforms, it was 'game over' for the country.

Asoko DealRoom

Also ahead of the Summit, Africa corporate data provider Asoko Insight announced a partnership with the UK's DIT to facilitate a digital DealRoom to support the event.

According to a statement released to the media, the digital DealRoom will leverage Asoko's "unique data acquisition model" and database over 100,000 private African companies to support the UK's partnership with Africa.

Wade-Smith added: "The launch of the digital DealRoom platform at the Summit will bring together bankable projects in Africa and the UK investment sector which would not otherwise have the opportunity to connect with each other. Our partnership with Asoko Insight marries the UK's world-class financial services sector together with tangible African growth opportunities, which will serve as an excellent legacy resource post the Summit."

Asoko's co-founder and CEO, Rob Withagen, said: "Sourcing deal flow in Africa is a challenge, despite the pressing need by private sector companies, especially in the mid-cap space. We're pleased to be able to help UK investors cut the time and resources they spend searching for prospective deals and speed the pipeline of investment that is at the heart of the Summit and the UK's ambitions for its relationship with Africa."

The UK government has three tech and innovation-focused programmes running during the week of the Summit. These are the Prosperity Games, the UK-Africa Female Founders and the Global EdTech Startup Awards.

The Prosperity Games is a GEP Initiative which consists out of a mix of pitching and networking alongside managed panel discussions and presentations, while the UK-Africa Female Founders will bring 15 of the continent's most ambitious development-focused women entrepreneurs to the UK, from each Tech Hub's in Africa (Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa).

The Global EdTech Startup Awards (GESA) is touted as the world's largest EdTech start-up competition. Initiated by MindCET (Israel), GESA was co-founded by the Open Education Challenge (EU) and EdTech UK in 2014.

Read more
Daily newsletter