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Foreign Secretary visits Africa to strengthen partnerships

  • James Cleverly will visit Ghana today [Monday, July 31] – the first of three African countries in a four-day visit across the continent.
  • He will announce new UK investment for small businesses in Ghana, one of the UK’s biggest export markets in sub-Saharan Africa.
  • The Foreign Secretary will travel on to Nigeria tomorrow (Tuesday) before concluding his visit in Zambia on Thursday.

The Foreign Secretary will pledge a £40 million boost for Ghana’s businesses, as he begins a trip to the country’s capital Accra today [31 July], at the start of a visit to Africa.

The funding provided by British International Investment, the UK’s development finance institution, owned wholly by the FCDO, will deliver long-term flexible capital for up to 150 Ghanaian small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs), opening up access to business support services to help them grow.

Ghana is the UK’s fourth-biggest export market in sub-Saharan Africa, with total UK imports from Ghana amounting to £1.3 billion in 2022. The country’s SME sector constitutes over 90% share of Ghana’s private sector, accounts for 60% of jobs and contributes 70% of the country’s GDP.

In Accra, the Foreign Secretary will see first-hand the UK-Ghana partnership in action, visiting UK-Ghana NGO Trashy Bags, where recycled drinking water sachets are upcycled into bags and sustainable products. The NGO receives grants from UK Export Finance.

New funding announced today aligns with the Prime Minister’s priorities of growing the economy, with investment funding unlocking potential for long-term economic growth in both Ghana and the UK.

The Foreign Secretary, James Cleverly said:

“I want the UK to be increasingly driving future-focussed, mutually beneficial partnerships with African countries operating in the world’s largest free trade area. From investments in clean energy, to companies turning waste products into fashion items, there is so much potential for economic growth across Africa.

“With the UK-African Investment Summit to be hosted in London in April next year, we are looking to strengthen our business links and grow our economies together. By investing in companies in Ghana today, we are investing in jobs and growth for the future.”

Keen for the UK to focus on building partnerships with countries like Ghana, the Foreign Secretary will also launch a £3.9 million UK programme to tackle illicit flows of illegal gold and the social, environmental and economic harms the trade causes both in Ghana and in the UK.

Showcasing the UK’s commitment to transformative science, innovation and technology to find new solutions to shared challenges, Cleverly will also visit one of Africa’s most prestigious life-science institutions to launch the UK-Ghana Science Tech and Innovation Strategy. The new strategy will strengthen health security, create new investment opportunities, and keep Ghana and the UK at the forefront of global life science priorities, including eradicating malaria.

Moving on to visit Nigeria and Zambia this week, he will meet with key government figures to discuss a positive future of our partnerships with Africa and continue to see UK partnerships with African businesses and NGOs in action, delivering economic growth and trade and investment opportunities.

Notes to editors

  • The £40 million package of funding for SMEs will be delivered through Growth Investment Partners (GIP) Ghana, a company established by British International Investment BII), and is projected to support up to150 Ghanaian SMEs within the next 15 years.
  • This support for Ghana is announced ahead of the 2024 UK-African investment summit, which will be hosted by the Prime Minister in London next April. The Summit will bring together Heads of State and Government from African countries, including Ghana, with British and African business leaders. The summit will strengthen UK-African partnerships to create jobs, growth and increase trade and investment.
  • In 2022, Ghana’s exports totalled $17.3bn, of which $1.7bn were to the UK. Oil, cocoa, and gold make up 80% of Ghana’s exports, while the UK is crucial for the remaining 20% of non-traditional goods (bananas, tuna, fresh cut fruit).
  • British International Investment (BlI) has been investing in Ghana’s private sector since 1959. In 2022, BII’s investment portfolio reached over $129m across key economic sectors including energy, agriculture, infrastructure, manufacturing, forestry and financial services with over 15,800 direct jobs supported and $3.3m taxes paid.
  • This is the Foreign Secretary’s third visit to Africa since his appointment. In 2022 he visited Kenya and Ethiopia, where he announced new trade and investment funding, and saw the impacts of climate change and conflict. In March 2023 he launched the Women and Girls Strategy in Sierra Leone.
  • The FCDO will issue further releases this week to cover later legs of the Foreign Secretary’s trip

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