The African Opportunity
With the U.K. having finally passed its spectacular trade deal with the EU, many Brexiteers, whilst elated are wondering what future opportunities the U.K. can now pursue – especially in Africa.
Many the casual, yet politically interested citizen may be wondering what an impoverished continent like Africa has to offer the U.K and a few may even see the continent as a drag on Britain's potential. Done correctly, however, the continent forming ever closer ties with the UK could prove to be a defining feature of the forthcoming century.
Firstly, getting useful allies. As the second largest and second most populous continent in the World, Africa has great potential in terms of becoming a powerhouse. Unfortunately, the impoverishment of much of its population from Zimbabwe to Libya means this potential is hard to realise. The unfortunate reality is that with a exception of a few charities much of the Western world, with the exception of the Commonwealth, appears to have turned a blind eye to all that's going on. With all the struggles the people go through daily it’s no wonder they’re willing to go to the one country that does appear to care – China, no matter how nefarious their intentions may in fact be. Outsourcing the continent to a rather unpleasant and deeply xenophobic alternative seems unwise at best, especially with its key strategic location. A post Brexit Britain must not let this happen, and can use the Commonwealth as the mechanism ensure it doesn’t.
And then of course how this benefits Africa. The continent's rampant poverty combined with governments that seem more concerned with gunning down their citizens rather than providing for their well-being, leaves it in a precarious situation. It isn’t accurate to call it monolithic - South Africa, for example has very different issues to deal with than Cameroon. But nonetheless the same basic issues of incompetence, corruption and poverty assail all of its countries to one degree or another. With the continent having ample untapped potential in terms of natural resources to make it a viable investment and seemingly pointing to a bright future, this is heart breaking, but it isn’t too late to reverse the current crisis’. As stated, infrastructure and healthcare are two essentials in need of development, something China recognizes, hence projects like the recent Lagos-Ibadan transit, and several trade deals and construction projects by the U.K with regional blocs (ECOWAS, ECCAS amongst others) will be of immense help to the region, allowing for the improvement of roads, bridges and ports, something many in the continent would dream to see. In an appeal to those British isolationists or Europhiles who appear seemingly unconcerned about how this improves the lives of ordinary Africans, the U.K can appeal to its own self-interest. Improved lives equal better global security which equals a safer post-Brexit Britain. A truly symbiotic relationship.
A good way to start implementing this is via the Commonwealth: multiple African countries are members (including the two with the biggest economies, Nigeria and South Africa) and using it as a means of establishing closer ties will be a way to start. Hosting more Commonwealth Games in the said African countries would be huge economic boosts, as would more cooperation militarily and economically.
This will require the time and effort that Brexit gives the UK the opportunity to invest in countries worldwide, yet even then, the UKs relationship with Africa will be a unique challenge. There is the not too insignificant problem of corruption which lurks around politics in much of Africa, waiting to pounce. But managed effectively, there’s nothing to stop many of the 54 most exciting economies of the future becoming ever more essential allies to Great Britain and the Commonwealth in the future. A strong and prosperous Africa will improve the lives of many of its citizens, and is a perfect mechanism by which the U.K can curtail Chinese influence while staying relevant to the globe. The UK and Commonwealth must not let this opportunity slip.