Theresa May Visits Nigeria Tomorrow as Trade with Britain Grows

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    Vincent Obia in Lagos and Alex Enumah in Abuja
    In her first Africa visit since coming to office, British Prime Minister Theresa May will lead senior ministers and a wide-ranging trade delegation to Nigeria, South Africa and Kenya this week, the Prime Minister’s Office stated in a statement yesterday.
    With the visit, May will be the first British Prime Minister to visit sub-Saharan Africa since 2013, and the first to go to Kenya for more than 30 years.

    The statement said, “This visit comes at a time of enormous change across Africa with a unique opportunity, as the UK moves towards Brexit, for a truly Global Britain to invest in and work alongside African nations, with mutual benefits.
    “The prime minister’s central message will be focused on a renewed partnership between the UK and Africa, which will seek to maximise shared opportunities and tackle common challenges in a continent that is growing at a rapid pace – from the Sahara to South Africa.

    “She will use a speech on the opening day of the visit in Cape Town to set out how we can build this partnership side by side with Africa, particularly by bringing the transformative power of private sector trade and investment from the UK to a continent that is home to 16 per cent of the world’s people but just three per cent of FDI and three per cent of global goods trade.”
    The statement said the prime minister would also use the visit to announce further security support to tackle instability across the region.

    May said regarding the visit, “Africa stands right on the cusp of playing a transformative role in the global economy, and as longstanding partners this trip is a unique opportunity at a unique time for the UK to set out our ambition to work even closer together.
    “A more prosperous, growing and trading Africa is in all of our interests and its incredible potential will only be realised through a concerted partnership between governments, global institutions and business.

    “As we prepare to leave the European Union, now is the time for the UK to deepen and strengthen its global partnerships. This week I am looking forward to discussing how we can do that alongside Africa to help deliver important investment and jobs as well as continue to work together to maintain stability and security.
    “I am proud to be leading this ambitious trip to Africa and to become the first UK Prime Minister in over 30 years to visit Kenya.”
    In Nigeria, May will meet President Muhammadu Buhari in Abuja and spend time in Lagos meeting victims of modern slavery, an issue the prime minister is passionately to tackle.

    The prime minister will be joined by a business delegation of about 29 representatives from the UK business community, half of which are SMEs, from across all regions of the UK and its devolved administrations.
    Delegates will include representatives of the London Stock Exchange, Cardiff-based cooling technology firm, Sure Chill, solar tech provider, Northumbria Energy from North Tyneside, London-based start-up, Farm.ink which have created a knowledge-sharing mobile platform for farmers, Northern Irish agri-tech leader Devenish Nutrition, the world-renowned Scotch Whisky Association and Midlands manufacturing giant, JCB.

    “Also travelling are Trade Minister George Hollingbery and Minister for Africa Harriett Baldwin. Secretary of State for Wales Alun Cairns will join the visit in South Africa to support the Welsh companies in the business delegation, while the Lord Mayor of London Charles Bowman is also accompanying the Prime Minister.
    “The prime minister will begin her trip in Cape Town in South Africa where she’ll see President Cyril Ramaphosa and meet young people and business leaders,” the statement added.
    While in South Africa the Prime Minister will present the Mendi bell to President Ramaphosa in a ceremony at Cape Town’s presidential office the Tuynhuys – over a century after it was lost in a shipwreck.

    Over 600 troops, the majority black South Africans, died when the Mendi tragically sank in the English Channel in 1917, on their way to join the Allied forces on the Western Front. It was the worst maritime disaster in South Africa’s history, and the Mendi has become a symbol of the country’s First World War remembrance.

    In Nairobi, she will meet President Uhuru Kenyatta and see British soldiers training troops from Kenya and other African countries in the techniques needed to identify and destroy improvised explosive devices before they go to fight Al-Shabaab in Somalia.
    She will also commit to helping support the next generation of energetic, ambitious young Kenyans as they seek to build a more prosperous country in the years ahead.

    Speaking in Abuja, the British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Mr. Paul Arkwright, said the prime minister’s visit was to explore investment opportunities and seek ways to tackle common security threats.
    He spoke yesterday during a media briefing and confirmed May would be meeting with Buhari tomorrow.
    He said, “We feel that we are a country looking at opportunities for the UK, looking at strengthening our partnerships with both traditional allies such as Nigeria.
    “She will be meeting President Buhari here on Wednesday and security will, no doubt, be part of that conversation as will prosperity and economic opportunities.”

    Arkwright disclosed that the British Government following agreement with the Nigerian government in 2016, has successfully repatriated stolen assets to Nigeria to the tune of 70m Pounds in the case of an undisclosed Nigerian who was found guilty after legal processes.
    The envoy assured that more stolen assets will be returned to the country after due process of the law, stressing that, “the British Government has no intention of keeping one kobo of Nigeria’s funds in the UK.”

    The envoy added that defence cooperation would also be one of the issues discussed between both leaders.
    He explained, “That is because we are interested in trade with Africa, Nigeria but investment as well.
    “UK is the second largest investor in Africa, we want to become the top investor in Africa; British companies are coming with prime minister to look at opportunities for investment and create jobs.”

    Arkwright disclosed further that the prime minister would visit the Salvation Army in Lagos, where she is to address issues of human trafficking and also meet with some victims.
    Also speaking in Lagos, the British Deputy High Commissioner to Nigeria, Laure Beaufils, said yesterday that bilateral trade between Nigeria and the United Kingdom increased from 3.7 billion pounds in 2016 to 4.2 billion pounds in 2017.
    Beaufils disclosed this at a press conference ahead of the visit of British Prime Minister Theresa May to Nigeria and two other African countries this week.

    Beaufils said the visit to Africa, the first by the British prime minister in five year, would focus on building and renewing economic partnership with the continent ahead of March next year, when Britain will leave the European Union.
    Meanwhile, Arkwright disclosed that the British Government following agreement with the Nigerian government in 2016 has successfully repatriated stolen assets to Nigeria to the tune of 70m Pounds in the case of an undisclosed Nigerian who was found guilty after legal processes.
    The envoy assured that more stolen assets will be returned to the country after due process of the law, stressing that, “the British Government has no intention of keeping one kobo of Nigeria’s funds in the UK.”