Friday, 31 August 2018

May has a lot of catching up to do

So the May caravan is moving on to Nigeria. As Kamal Ahmed pointed out on BBC Business this morning, Mrs May has a lot of catching up to do. Since 2013, there have been French premi√®res' visits to Morocco, Togo, Ghana and Ivory Coast in 2016, and Tunis in 2017. More significantly, the French president (who has executive powers) has been a frequent traveller in Africa: Tunisia, Nigeria, Central African Republic, Ivory Coast, Niger, Chad, Guinea and Senegal in 2014, Tunisia, Algeria, Benin, Angola, Cameroon and Morocco in 2015, Egypt, Central African Republic, Nigeria, Morocco, and Madagascar in 2016, Morocco, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Algeria, Niger and Mali in 2017. Emmanuel Macron has already visited Nigeria, Ghana, Burkina Faso and Ivory Coast this year. There has long been a commitment by France linking her growth to that of African nations.

As Kamal Ahmed indicated, the total value of the total African market is much less than that of the EU. Figures are hard to nail down, but in 2016 it was estimated that the GDP of the whole continent was equivalent to that of just one developed nation in Europe. However, the leading African nations are growing fast and Africa is important in geopolitical, not just economic, terms. It is significant that China is a major investor in Africa. Moreover, demonstrating a serious commitment to economic development and encouragement of democracy in our former colonies and in northern hemisphere African nations as a whole should reduce the flow of migrants to the UK.

There is one further visit which Emmanuel Macron has committed to and which Mrs May should surely match. On the anniversary of the devastation wrought by hurricane Irma, he has promised to revisit Saint Martin in the French Antilles. Antigua, Barbuda, Anguilla, the Turks & Caicos and the British Virgin Isles would surely appreciate an official tour by royalty or by a senior government figure, concerning themselves about the rebuilding and improvement of the islands' infrastructure.

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