The Foreign Secretary gave the keynote address to open the second annual Global African Investment Summit on 1 December. Building on the success of last year, the Summit brought together government and business with the aim of driving increased private sector investment across Africa.
Philip Hammond used his speech in London to reaffirm the close ties between the UK and the countries of Africa, from the “political links to the excellent people to people connections and the highly successful commercial partnerships”. The Foreign Secretary made clear that development and growth in Africa is not just in Africa’s interests, it is central to the UK’s national interest as well.
The Foreign Secretary also emphasised that the private sector is the “engine of growth” but it is governments that create the environment for success: through adopting policies that encourage enterprise and building the critical infrastructure that allow businesses to flourish.
The UK’s new prosperity fund will “promote improved conditions for sustainable and inclusive growth”. It will help create better business environments, opening up markets and fostering investment. The Department for International Development is also ramping up its economic development programme. The Foreign Secretary told the summit that it is not aid that will unleash the economic potential of Africa: “it is trade, commerce and private investment that will deliver the truly glittering prizes”.
The Foreign Secretary closed his speech with a challenge for both business and government:
There is no shortcut to prosperity.
Governments can play a crucial role: creating an environment that is conducive to business and economic growth, which encourages innovation and which unleashes the entrepreneurial spirit of the youth.
And my message to those companies represented here is to take up the opportunity of these exciting and rewarding new markets and be at the forefront of this collective endeavour.
African markets have been undergoing a profound and positive economic adjustment. But to truly deliver the transformational change that is required, and long deserved, necessitates the combined forces of the private and public sector, working together and, most importantly, working for the benefit of millions of Africans.