British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has today opened the 2022 Africa Investment Conference.

The conference aims to boost trade between the UK and Africa, and is this year set to focus on sustainable investment and clean growth opportunities.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan, secretary of state for international trade, is hosting the one-day virtual event.

As part of the conference, Trevelyan spoke with Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, former minister of finance for Nigeria and director of the World Trade Organization (WTO).

“Two years on from the inaugural UK-Africa Investment Summit, the UK’s ambition to be Africa’s investment partner of choice has never been stronger,” said Trevelyan.

“The continent has huge economic potential and our continued partnership will help businesses capitalise on investment opportunities by supporting high-value jobs and boosting enterprise in every part of the UK.

“This year’s conference focuses on the importance of resilient, sustainable investment to support Africa as it pivots towards a more environmentally-friendly growth trajectory, and I look forward to working with leaders from the continent as they continue on this path to a greener future.”

This year’s conference is expected to bring together over 2,000 registered delegates for a series of panel discussions and match-making opportunities. 

It will seek to build on the achievements of the 2020 UK-Africa Investment Summit in London, where 27 trade and investment deals worth £6.5 billion, and further commitments worth £8.9 billion, were announced.

The clean growth theme of this year’s conference also builds on the UK’s commitment to providing £11.6 billion of International Climate Finance (ICF) over the next five years to support developing countries’ response to climate change.

Last year’s virtual conference was attended by over 2,800 delegates from over 40 African countries and the UK.

Vimal Seeboruth, general manager at UK electric vehicle manufacturer Arrival Ltd, said: “The conference in 2021 was excellent, and a great way to bring UK and African business together.

“By attending we got a much better understanding of the support mechanisms and points of contact for us to use in developing our business in Africa.”

In the latest example of Britain’s growing partnership with Africa, this week UK sustainable battery firm Aceleron secured an investment deal with Mobility 54 Investment SAS, a subsidiary of Toyota Group, focused on Africa.

The deal is part of a £5 million Series A funding round to accelerate the development and use of sustainable batteries in Africa.

UK-Africa Growth Gateway tool

Also today, the UK has launched Growth Gateway, a new digital tool to link African and British businesses to UK government trade, finance, and investment opportunities.

Growth Gateway will provide practical online support to businesses in Africa that want to export to and invest in the UK. 

It will also assist businesses in the UK that want to export to and invest in Africa, with assistance from trade and investment specialists.

Growth Gateway follows a concerted effort from the British government to facilitate UK-Africa trade, including via its export credit agency, UK Export Finance (UKEF).

Over the last four years, UKEF has more than tripled its investment in Africa, from approximately £600 million in 2018-19 to over £2.3 billion in 2020-21.

During that time, UKEF has funded a range of infrastructure projects in countries such as Ghana, Uganda, and Ivory Coast.

As part of its offering, UKEF can help foreign countries access finance, loans, and insurance, on the condition that they commit to sourcing goods and services from the UK.

In 2021, for example, UKEF lent €241m toward a €326m project to build six hospitals in Ivory Coast – its largest ever loan in Francophone Africa.

The deal was signed with the Ivory Coast Ministry of Health and Public Hygiene, and the construction was delivered by UK-headquartered NMS Infrastructure Ltd.

Since 2019, UKEF has also provided over £120 million to expand and modernise the Kumasi Market in Ghana – West Africa’s largest market with over 800,000 daily visitors.