A Nigerian tech entrepreneur, Joel Popoola, has been appointed to head the task force to improve trading ties between Africa and the United Kingdom.
Popoola, a digital democracy campaigner and the creator of the Rate Your Leader app, is to lead a Special Interest Group for Africa established by the UK Institute of Directors (IoD)-one of the world’s oldest and most prestigious business leader groups.
According to him, the IoD Africa SIG will stimulate business opportunities, increase networking, and grow awareness of British businesses in Africa and African businesses in Britain.
The IoD Africa SIG will be launched in London on May 19, 2022, with all African diplomatic missions and some heads of state expected to attend.
In a statement, he stated that prior to the launch, serious bi-monthly online roundtables would be held to discuss post-COVID-19 and Brexit business opportunities for UK and African businesses.
The UK Government has already negotiated eight free trade agreements with African countries and trading blocs since Brexit, creating tariff and duty-free trade between Britain and 30 African nations-this means significant opportunities for African consumers and companies, not least in 24 English speaking countries.
Popoola in the statement said: “One UK parliamentary report recently noted that UK-Africa trade has ‘flat-lined’ and accounts for just 2.5 per cent of all UK trade. But before the COVID-19 outbreak, the world’s five fastest-growing economies were all African, and regional leaders like South Africa and Nigeria are likely to become superpowers of the global economy as we move towards the second half of this century. More needs to be done on both sides to take advantage of the opportunities on offer.
“As one of the world’s most influential and established business leader forums with royal endorsement dating back to 1906, the Institute of Directors is the ideal forum to develop opportunities for UK-based firms that want to establish and grow new business in Africa and vice versa.
“As a proud African, and on a personal note, I hope the establishment of this Special Interest Group will come to be seen as an important step to a free trade agreement between my country, Nigeria and the United Kingdom.”
Currently, Britain has free trade agreements with Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, the Eastern and Southern African trade bloc (Mauritius, Seychelles and Zimbabwe), Egypt, Ghana, Morocco, Southern African Customs Union and Mozambique (six countries, including South Africa) and Tunisia.