Something is stirring in Africa.
First the Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed wins the Nobel Peace Prize, then his South African counterpart Cyril Ramaphosa makes a passionate pitch to global investors about the continent’s rising economic prospects, now their fellow African leaders are invited to Russia by President Putin as world leaders scramble to demonstrate their Africa ambitions.
Prime Minister Abiy’s sudden peace with neighbouring Eritrea inspired delegates to the Financial Times Africa Summit. The South African President Cyril Ramaphosa told would-be investors that Africa was on the cusp of a new era which would be driven by the newly-signed Africa Free Trade Agreement to create a single market of 1.2 billion people worth $ 3 trillion.
“A common and new vision is growing in Africa’ said President Ramaphosa, ” Ahmed Abey is part of a generation of African leaders seeking to envisage a continent which is stable and well-governed in which Africa’s resources will benefit all and not just a few”.
He challenged the international investment community to take advantage of what he called a “new climate of reform”.
An early indication of this new interest in Africa came from the UK’s Minister for Africa Andrew Stephenson who used the FT Summit – dubbed “Africa In Motion”- to announce the biggest increase in UK Trade officials to be based in Africa for a generation.
He promised that the UK would provide technical support to help develop the Africa Free Trade Agreement, along with tax expertise to help Africa governments improve revenue collection, climate change expertise, and new models to help African companies enter the UK financial market.
Support is also coming from President Putin’s Russia. It is hosting a major summit for dozens of African leaders. President Putin has told them that Africa is one of Russia’s foreign policy priorities.
Russia has announced a package of measures to boost its presence across the continent including economic assistance and educational and vocational training.
China is already a major player in Africa and already hosts a major annual conference for African leaders. China is Africa’s largest trade partner and last year pledged $60 billion for development projects.
Meanwhile Japan is quietly making major investment inroads, along with the Turks, the Egyptians and the Gulf States.
In August Japan hosted dozens of African leaders at the 7th Tokyo International Conference for African Development and heard that Japan will invest $20 billion over the next three years in Africa.
Next month South Africa will host a major investment conference supported by the African Development Bank. President Ramaphosa said he hopes his country will secure more than $100 million investment at the conference.
In January next year the UK hopes to go one better with its UK-Africa Investment Summit.
Something really is stirring in Africa.