UK Export Finance (UKEF), the export credit agency of the British government, has more than tripled its investment in Africa to £2.3 billion.

From approximately £600 million in 2018-19, UKEF’s total investment in Africa has risen exponentially in the last four years, thanks to projects in countries such as Ghana, Ivory Coast, Egypt, Cameroon, and Tunisia.

The news of UKEF’s expansion in Africa comes after the Department for International Trade (DIT) hosted its annual Africa Investment Conference yesterday.

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

Yesterday, the UK also 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 support from a team of trade and investment specialists.

UKEF’s Africa expansion

Ahead of yesterday’s conference, UKEF took the opportunity to promote its extended ties to Africa since 2018. 

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 British firm 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 visitors daily.

This month, the Kumasi Market was back in the news again, after Deutsche Bank closed a new lending facility to initiate phase two of the redevelopment plans, as the sole structuring bank and mandated lead arranger for the UKEF loan.

Other 2021 highlights

UKEF currently has billions of pounds in capacity to support projects in African markets sourcing from the UK, and can offer financing in up to 12 African currencies. 

Highlights from UKEF in Africa in 2021 include a range of infrastructure projects such as roads, bridge building, and public transport.

In Egypt, UKEF issued £1.2 billion to support the construction of two electric monorails in Cairo – the largest amount it has ever provided to an overseas infrastructure project.

Also in Egypt, UKEF provided $38 million in support for EgyptAir’s purchase of two Trent-1000 spare engines from Rolls-Royce.

In Ghana, UKEF provided a guarantee of over £40 million to support Ghana’s Ministry of Finance.

This enabled enabled British bridge building company Mabey Bridge to secure a contract to build and export 87 emergency bridges to areas impacted by flooding.

In Cameroon, UKEF provided £115 million in support to improve trade links by widening the Douala Road from two to six lanes. 

The project will support a major trade route from the port at Douala to the capital Yaoundé, and onwards to Cameroon’s landlocked neighbours: Chad and the Central African Republic.

Similarly, in Ivory Coast, UKEF provided £105 million in support for the rehabilitation and reinforcement of two existing roads, and the construction of four bridges to improve trade links with neighbouring countries Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, and Burkina Faso.