As the first Cabinet Minister to visit Africa since the UK voted to leave the European Union, the International Development Secretary set out her vision for UK aid in the continent and announced new support to boost economic development.
With Africa now home to the world’s fastest growing population, Ms Patel set out the importance of generating productive jobs and sustainable livelihoods, opening up markets, stimulating economic growth and increasing business opportunities to make the most of a young, vibrant working population. This provides a better alternative to risking the dangerous journey to Europe or turning to extremism, therefore tackling migration and instability, which is firmly in the UK’s interests.
New support includes:
- Launching a new Invest Africa programme to encourage at least £400 million of foreign direct investment into the most productive sectors – such as manufacturing – to create 90,000 direct and indirect jobs in Kenya and other African countries over the next decade. This builds on the UK’s role as the largest European investor into Africa.
- Providing £95 million over the next four years to increase Kenya’s trade by £1.3bn, building on the success of TradeMark East Africa – founded by UK aid – in breaking down the barriers to trade. This will create hundreds of thousands of new jobs, stimulate further growth and generate additional revenue for the Kenyan authorities that provide basic services for those in need.
- Providing £35 million to help go beyond meeting the basic needs of refugees – focusing on creating trading opportunities and sustainable livelihoods closer to home. This support benefits not only those who have been displaced by conflict and persecution but also host communities, encouraging greater integration and stability.
International Development Secretary Priti Patel said:
No country can defeat poverty without sustained economic growth and in Kenya I saw how UK support is creating job and trade opportunities for the many, not the few.
As we redefine our place in the world following the EU Referendum, it is vital that the UK deepens existing relationships with African countries and establishes new trade, investment and economic links that deliver in our national interests, by bringing new opportunities for British businesses and creating our trading partners of the future.
Ms Patel visited Mombasa Port – the biggest port in East Africa serving 200million people – where she saw how the UK is breaking down the barriers to trade and yielding results. This has contributed to a 75% reduction in the amount of time that it takes to move goods from Mombasa to neighbouring countries, a 10% increase in Kenya’s exports, hundreds of millions of pounds worth of increased trade and a reduction in corruption through greater transparency and accountability.
In Northern Kenya, Ms Patel visited Kalobeyei settlement near Kakuma refugee camp, where new UK support is driving forward the Government of Kenya’s progressive new approach to helping refugees access trading and livelihood opportunities. While still in its early stages, for the first time Kenya’s local communities are better integrating with refugees and sharing the benefits of greater trade.
This builds on landmark agreements at the UN General Assembly last month, including £20 million increase in UK support to help Somali refugees in Kenya safely and voluntarily return to livelihoods at home, building stability and security in the region.
Ms Patel also met local communities in the arid lands of Northern Kenya, where 94% of people are living in extreme poverty to see how the UK is leading the way in delivering smart, efficient and cost-effective aid for the poorest. By using innovative digital technology and providing regular payments directly into bank accounts, the UK is helping people purchase what they need, giving them economic empowerment and creating trading opportunities.
In the last 5 years, UK aid in Kenya has:
- enabled 550,000 children to access primary education
- provided 450,000 women with family planning services
- helped 1.1 million people cope with the effects of climate change
- improved access to clean energy for 476,000 people; and
- distributed over 12.2 million bed nets to prevent malaria.