On 20 January 2020 the United Kingdom (UK) hosted the UK-Africa Investment Summit in London. The Summit, which was hosted by the Prime Minister, Mr. Boris Johnson, brought together businesses, governments and international institutions to showcase and promote the breadth and quality of investment opportunities across Africa. The Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari led the Nigerian delegation, with Mr. Johnson and others inaugurating the Summit, with the participation of 21 African Heads of State and a number of businessmen and investors from Britain and African countries.
The Summit was meant to strengthen the UK’s partnership with African nations, to build a secure and prosperous future for the citizens; to mobilise new and substantial investment to create jobs and boost mutual prosperity. The UK-Africa Investment Summit is the largest annual investment event held for the eighth time outside Africa.
At the event, Mrs. Zainab Shamsuna Ahmed, Honourable Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, was calling for investors to invest in infrastructure like rail and road transportation, water supply, and bridges. She also called on them to invest in the digital economy and services industry, connecting it to job creation and supporting youth development, since Nigeria has a large youth population.
She attended the Opening Plenary of the UK-Africa Investment Summit alongside President Buhari and Nigerian delegates at the Intercontinental Hotel, the O2 London. After the Plenary, there was a networking session at the delegates’ lounge and business innovation hub.
She attended the Plenary on Sustainable Finance and Infrastructure, and was also at the African Growth Opportunities. She had some private side meetings on the go and then went to PriceWaterHouseCoopers (PWC) London Office for a meeting with investors where she listened to the challenges facing those already investing in Nigeria and the expectations of those planning to invest. She called on investors to look into investments in infrastructure, the agricultural value chain, young people, digital economy and the service industry in Nigeria while promising them that the opportunities are enormous.
For dinner, she was hosted by British MP, Helen Grant. Grant was the first black woman of mixed heritage to be elected as a Conservative MP and selected as a candidate to stand for a Conservative-held parliamentary seat. She is mixed with Nigerian heritage. Grant stated that she was ready to support turning conversation into reality after the Summit. In attendance were Mr. Godwin Emefiele, Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Ms. Patience Oniha, Director-General (DG) Debt Management Office (DMO), representative of Department for International Development (DFID) and Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC), and Helen Grant’s Husband, Mr. Simon Grant.
Mrs. Ahmed, Mr. Emefiele and the NIPC Representative, Yewande Sadikwu, discussed about Nigeria being a lot more than Abuja and Lagos, with investment opportunities in all states across the country. The Honorable Minister emphasised the young population of able- minded and educated graduates with excellent ideas in the technology industry, for example. Discussions were held on how to ensure that the Summit was successful in transforming meetings into reality. She called on investors to grab the opportunity of a young population which has made the digital economy very promising.
Regarding the agenda of the Summit, the Opening Session was followed throughout the day by a number of sessions, talking on sustainable financing and infrastructure issues. With the participation of African leaders, Heads of institutions and international economic organisations and representatives of the British government, joint investment opportunities were discussed and experiences and plans to stimulate partnership in the area of investment in the coming period was also discussed.
This was followed by another session entitled ‘Trade and Investment’ in which the African Free Trade Agreement with the participation of African Heads of State and businessmen was discussed. Moreover, multilateral agreements were discussed including how to increase trade and investment opportunities by expanding the process of regional integration across the continent.
A session entitled ‘African Growth Opportunities’ was organised with the participation of African Heads of State to review the reform plans and opportunities that are provided to increase growth rates, and a number of businessmen and representatives of multilateral companies had discussed the best ways to attract more investments and develop mutual partnership between the two parties.
Among others, another session entitled ‘Transformation to New Energy’ was also put together with the participation of African Heads of State to discuss their ambitions on the use of clean energy, including partnerships and policies that will assist them in the implementing, as well as review their views and plans to convert to clean and new energy.
On the sidelines of the Summit, an exhibition for a number of British and African companies had taken place in many fields, especially robot technology, satellites, new and renewable energy, and sustainable building materials. A number of investment agencies from both the British and African sides participated in the exhibition to discuss the possibility of concluding cooperation and partnership agreements.