By Vera Anyagafu
The UK Prime Minister, Theresa May, has said that Africa needs 18 million new jobs each year between now and 2035 just to keep pace with population growth during her first day at the UN General Assembly in New York, while challenging attendees to invest in Africa to create more of the jobs that will transform lives as well as economies.
According to the PM, Africa needs 18 million new jobs each year between now and 2035 just to keep pace with population growth and the PM will set out how this creates not just a challenge but an opportunity for states and investors. In 2018, five of the world’s fastest-growing economies are African. By 2050, a quarter of the world’s population and a quarter of the world’s consumers will live there.
“Last month, I made my first official visit to Africa, meeting leaders, entrepreneurs and young people who are building an exciting future for their countries and their continent.
“I saw a continent full of potential. One with a young population that is eager to embrace the opportunities of the 21st century and ready to play its part in tackling the challenges we all face.
“That is why high quality investment and job creation forms the centerpiece of the UK’s new partnership with Africa,” she said, while calling on the international community to invest in Africa in order to unlock the potential of a generation on the continent, lift people out of poverty and enable countries to move to a future beyond aid.
To this end, last month in Cape Town, the PM announced an additional £4 billion programme of UK investment in African economies to pave the way for at least another £4 billion of private sector financing. This included, for the first time, an ambition from the UK government’s Development Finance Institution, CDC, to invest £3.5 billion in African nations over the next four years and this call for fresh investment, builds towards the UK-Africa investment summit to take place in London, 2019.
The PM also highlighted the UK’s role in working with the World Bank Group’s International Finance Corporation to enable them to double investment in Sub-Saharan Africa to $10-12 billion a year by 2030, creating new jobs and helping Africa’s private sector to thrive.
It is expected she will welcome a new Sustainable Development Capital Initiative launched by the City of London in response to UK leadership, encouraging greater private sector investment in developing economies. It will bring specialists together to maximise the City’s contribution to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
However, International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt said that “The City of London has the global expertise to build sustainable relationships with our African partners that will see British businesses investing and trading with some of the fastest growing economies in the world.
This is a win for Africa, as it will secure the investment the continent needs for a prosperous future and a win for the UK, seeing British expertise influencing the global economy. “This is about securing the global partnerships that will unlock the crucial private sector backing needed to realise the potential of African economies and create quality jobs.”
Also speaking, City of London Corporation Policy Chairman, Catherine McGuinness said that “The UK is the world’s second largest investor and donor, and a major trading partner with Africa. It makes a vital contribution to economic development in the world’s poorest countries and we are proud to take a leading role on the international stage.
“Thanks to the pioneering efforts of government and industry, London, and indeed the UK as a whole, is a respected world leader in sustainable finance.
“It’s only natural therefore that we use this experience to leverage our position as a leading international financial centre to help mobilise the investment and innovation required to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
“I am confident this initiative will provide the leadership, partnership and expert knowledge needed to accelerate the SDGs and realise the trillion-dollar opportunities they present.
Co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Bill Gates, said that, “Africa’s growing youth population presents a huge opportunity, but we can only realise that if African governments, supported by partners like the UK, invest sufficiently in health and education for all, so those young people can reach their potential.”