A New Confident African Middle Class Is Emerging


…..It Is Time To Deepen Trade And Investment With Africa

Ambassador Victor Emmanuel Smith, Ghana’s High Commissioner to UK & Ireland, has called on UK Businesses to deepen their trade and investment relations with Africa, particularly Ghana for their mutual benefit.

The High Commissioner, made this call when he accompanied Hon. Minister Mark Simmonds, MP, and Minister for Africa on a three day tour of the North of England: Manchester, Leeds and Newcastle.

The tour was organized from July 22 to 24, 2014 by the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO), UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) and other UK Government Agencies.

Its objective was to dialogue with local businesses and highlight the enormous opportunities Africa offer in supporting the delivery of UK and Africa’s growth agenda.

This was against the background of Britain’s High Level Prosperity Partnership Agreement with Ghana and four other African countries last year, aimed at strengthening economic cooperation and anchored in the belief that the highest level of economic development can be achieved by working together in partnership and leveraging expertise across governments and businesses in the UK and Africa. It is in pursuit of this agreement that the Minister, accompanied by the Ghanaian and Tanzanian High Commissioners, undertook this trip with officials of the UKTI and DFID.

In his briefing, High Commissioner Smith pointed out that Ghana has evolved into a stable and mature democracy through the last 2 decades and continues to show good performance on democratic governance. He attributed these to a strong multi-party political system, a growing plural media landscape and a vibrant, active civil society. He also underscored the fact that in comparison with its sub-Saharan neighbors,
Ghana is free from social unrests and with significant natural resources and agricultural potential, offers a competitive labour advantage than most counterparts in the developing world.

He assured the business group that the government of Ghana is taking steps to put in place investment programs to deal with the current energy difficulties as a matter of urgency in order to propel growth, employment, competitiveness and macro-economic stability.

According to H.E. Victor Smith, it is estimated that by 2050 sub-Saharan Africa will have a larger and younger work force than China or India. With the continent’s abundant land and natural resources, that workforce can constitute a competitive labour advantage and transform the sub region’s economy. He further emphasized that such transformation will come through diversifying African economies, boosting our competitiveness in the global market, and through the effective use of more sophisticated technology, boost production shares and manufacturing levels.

The High Commissioner also took the opportunity to assure UK private sector operators and other potential investors of Government’s commitment and determination to resolve the country’s current economic challenges. “As a nation, we have risen above many challenges before and we shall rise again. The signs of recovery are already beginning to show” he emphasised.
Hon. Mark Simmonds in his remarks re-echoed his vision of a prosperous and thriving Africa and pointed out the critical role of UK in achieving this vision. Hon.Simmonds indicated that, in his numerous visits to Africa, he has been struck by Africa’s enormous potential and the significant opportunities for British companies. He pointed out that as a global leader in logistics; retailing; creative industries; hydrocarbons; agriculture; banking; renewable energy; pharmaceuticals; financial services; extractives; research and development, British companies are better positioned to share their expertise and succeed in Africa.

Hon. Mark Simmonds underscored the fact that Africa is increasingly becoming prosperous, urban and sophisticated instead of the trope of a continent for the poor and destitute. He said the hard facts demonstrate that Africa is ambitious and determined and will indeed rise again with the private sector driving its economic development.

The High Commissioner was accompanied on the trip by Mr. Kofi Addo, Head of Trade & Investment of the Mission, and comes on the heels of the business council for Africa’s roundtable which HE Victor Smith addressed on July 17 in central London. Under the theme “Ghana’s Business Environment”, High Commissioner Smith emphasized Ghana’s long standing relations with the UK which he said provides a firm foundation for the future of bilateral trade secured through friendship, shared values and a strong Ghanaian diaspora. He assured business partners that government had taken steps to reduce Ghana’s fiscal deficit and was hopeful that Ghana’s business environment will very soon “mirror the success of economies such as in Asia” he added.

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