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“For the UK, Africa matters,” says Harriet Baldwin

PICTURED: Minister for Africa, Harriet Baldwin (Photo credit: Gov.uk)

HARRIET BALDWIN has spoken at the British Foreign Policy Group to consider the future of British and African partnerships.

In her role as Minister for Africa in both the Department for International Development and the Foreign Office, she said: “I am truly championing a whole-of-Government approach to stepping up our partnership with African countries.

This means bringing together the UK’s development and humanitarian expertise, our world-class diplomacy, our political analysis, our trade experts, our health specialists, our education experts and our military and security excellence.”

Keen for the UK to build sustainable relations across the continent, Baldwin proposed her aims for the future. “We are really extending our reach across Africa. The vision is that at the end of this process, we will have more offices across Africa than any other European country.

“That comprehensive and integrated package that we have offers real advantage to the young people of Africa on the issues that they think are most important for their future.”

Emphasising the scale of opportunity, Baldwin added: “By 2050 the population of Africa is expected to reach 2.5 billion people. That is a both a great opportunity and a great challenge. Nigeria alone needs to create about 6,000 new jobs every single day until 2030 just to keep up with the growth in its population.”

With a particular focus on the younger generation, Baldwin said its time for Britain to “step up its support” in providing Africa with the necessary tools to “build opportunities for the growing numbers of young people entering the job market every year.

“Creating jobs for millions of young people is vital to ensuring the stability and economic prosperity of the continent,” she said.

Baldwin also focused her attention on supporting women and men in the stages of family planning. “We know that 37 million women across Africa want to have access to family planning options. And we know about the wider societal benefits of empowering women to take control of their life and health choices.”

Pushing it to become at the height of its prominence, she said: “Family planning should feature on the finance agenda, on the infrastructure agenda and on investment agendas.

This is why the UK is delivering a step change in our support for access to voluntary family planning, doing more to empower women to take control of their lives and their health choices. And we’re also empowering girls and women to take control of their future through our commitment to girls’ education.”

At the G7 Summit, it was announced by Prime Minister Theresa May that over the next eight years, DFID’s Girls Education Challenge would help more than 1.5 million girls transition through their education, to reduce early pregnancy and increase their job prospects.

Baldwin commented: “For every extra year a girl stays in school, her future wages rise by 12 per cent. This is why we have given such strong support to the campaign to secure 12 years of quality education for everyone, including all girls.

“This work on education and family planning goes hand in hand to make sure we are giving today’s girls the opportunities and skills they need to play a vital role in their countries’ progress.”

As she concluded her speech, Baldwin said: “It is now time for a bigger, deeper, more mature partnership. Leaving the European Union does not mean stepping away from our global responsibilities – quite the opposite.

“And this is why we are stepping up our partnerships across Africa, our commitment to the long-term success of African nations and our support to the future hopes of millions of young people.”

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