By Chris Zumani Zimba
In her official speech delivered in Cape Town this morning after arriving in South Africa, British Prime, Theresa May pledged £4bn in support for African economies, to create jobs for young people based on what she called “true partnership”. For this region, job creation is an imperative issue as the population of young Africans under the age of 25 years is currently at 60% and youth unemployment is on the increase. “The challenges facing Africa are not Africa’s alone. It is the world’s interest to see these jobs created”, the British PM noted.
“True partnerships are not about one party doing unto another, but states, governments, businesses and individuals working together in a responsible way to achieve common goals,” Mrs May said. Among other critical policy issues concerning Britain and Africa, Mrs May said she wanted the UK to overtake the US to become the G7’s biggest investor in Africa by 2022.
In this modern world were China has emerged as the lead ‘neo colonialist’ especially in Africa by investing and trading almost in all sectors and heavily accused of being exploitative in their dealings with African governments and among African laborers, the position taken by the British Prime Minister could be deemed a direct rebuke to the Beijing government’s current reputation in the region as well as an indirect remorse and apology of her government’s past engagements with the continent.
While Theresa May could boast that Britain is still an important player across Africa given its political history and the official domination of the English language in most states, it is also true to conclude that the Prime Minister as she visits South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya this week is fully aware that many modern African citizens now see and value both China and the US in higher esteem than Britain. It believed that her visit to Africa through South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya will boost and consolidate British’s old bilateral and multilateral relations with Africa in comparison with the US, EU, China or India especially following BREXIT.
The BBC reported that May’s visit is the first by a British leader to Sub-Saharan Africa since David Cameron attended Nelson Mandela’s memorial service in 2013 while Mrs May’s visit to Nairobi will mark the first by a UK Prime Minister to Kenya since Margaret Thatcher in 1988. During her time in South Africa, Theresa May presented a World War One relic – linked to one of the worst maritime disasters in English waters to South African President Cyril Ramaphosa. While she will also discuss security issues concerning the threat of Boko Haram in Nigeria, Mrs. May will equally touch another security issue in in Kenya concerning the fight against al-Shabab militants in Somalia as British troops are directly helping the East African countries in this regard.
Chris Zumani Zimba is a Political Scientist, Author, PhD Scholar, Lecturer, Researcher and Consultant