Dancing and smiling, Britain’s May seeks to bolster ties in Africa visit

British Prime Minister Theresa May is in South Africa as part of a three-country tour to Africa to strengthen trade relations ahead of Brexit. Serena Chaudhry reports.

CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA AND ABUJA, NIGERIA (UK POOL / REUTERS) – Britain’s Theresa May is on a charm offensive in South Africa.

The prime minister is looking to boost trade ties with the African continent ahead of Brexit with two other African economic powerhouses – Nigeria and Kenya – also on her itinerary.

May plans to repurpose the UK’s international aid budget – around $18 billion last year – to help British companies invest in Africa.


“I can today announce a new ambition – 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, in investing the billions that will see African economies growing by trillions.”

But it’s not an easy sell.

May’s come under fire by lawmakers back home who say the budget is too high.

They want the money to be spent elsewhere or in Britain.

And that’s not the only challenge.

The UK will also have to compete with other major players on the continent – not least China, which has a rapidly growing footprint – and France, which maintains close relations with its former colonies.

For May, building ties outside the European Union, currently its biggest trading partner, is crucial as Britain prepares to leave the bloc.

And for now, it’s uncertain who’ll be calling the tune.

Associated Links

  • Brexit
  • Euroscepticism in the United Kingdom
  • Withdrawal from the European Union
  • European Union
  • Politics
  • International relations
  • Mahendra Chaudhry

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