On Friday February 23rd 2018 the UK’s Africa Trade Commissioner, Emma Wade-Smith, will be visiting Nigeria as part of a wider visit programme to the region, focusing on trade and investment. Her visit follows a number of senior British ministers across Africa including Foreign Secretary of State, Boris Johnson who visited Nigeria last August with the then Development Secretary; Sir Liam Fox, Secretary of State for Trade, visiting South Africa, Mozambique, Uganda and Ethiopia; Harriet Baldwin, the new Minister for Africa who recently concluded a trip to Zimbabwe, Zambia, Cameroon and Côte d’Ivoire; in addition numerous Prime Minister’s Trade Envoys. What’s clear is that in the 18 months since Britain voted to leave the EU, the UK is serious about their goal to be champions of free, fair and inclusive trade with Africa to mutual benefit.
Commenting on her objectives on visiting West Africa and Nigeria in particular, Emma Wade-Smith said: ‘Nigeria and the UK have a long and solid business relationship. As our economies evolve, so too does our commercial partnership. Nigeria is a country of immeasurable prospects. I want to help more British business people understand the scale and range of opportunities that there are in Nigeria, to build relationships well beyond this vibrant and exciting city’.
The UK Trade Director for West Africa, Kate Rudd, who is based in Lagos covering the region, highlighted the uptick in activity and said, ‘I’m excited to see the level of political will to do something positive and lasting in Africa, there hasn’t been such a high level of engagement in recent times. It’s vital when Africa is developing so quickly, and the UK is taking a different historic path, that we work together to realise the potential of this great continent, taking our relationship firmly beyond aid because the future really is all about trade’.
‘There is a perceptions issue, but we are challenging that. It is clear there is more stability, good governance, and transparency in West Africa in particular than in the recent past, there are already a good number of British businesses doing well here and adding value to the markets they are present in, but so much more could be done for the mutual benefit given the scale of the opportunities on offer. My team’s role in West Africa is to dispel the myths, provide guidance and introductions, and help increase the value and volume of bilateral deals’.