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Africa's bright future

PICTURED: Prime Minister Theresa May meets students and staff at I.D. Mkize Secondary School in Cape Town,

AS WE report in this week’s issue, prime minister Theresa May’s visit to Africa is being seen as one of great significance.

During her first visit to the continent Mrs May stressed the ‘mutual benefits’ of strengthened ties between Britain and the continent during meetings with South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari and Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta.

With Brexit looming and its direction uncertain, Britain needs new trading partners. But casting aside any scepticism that some may have about strategic diplomacy, the prime minister’s moves should be welcomed.

In recent years there have been big question marks over whether the UK is still committed to the continent. But part of the reason for this trip was to reassure Africa that it is still engaged with the continent and still wants to do business with it. And the new relationship being sought could see Africa being a bigger player in the global economy.

Analysts have been highlighting for a number of years now the fact that with more than 900 million consumers, Africa is a great place to do business. The continent has the world’s fastest growing and youngest population, one that is set to double to two billion by 2045 providing it with the largest workforce in the world. That gives the continent a potentially huge advantage in economic terms.

The energy of youth also means that it is home to more young people who want to start their own businesses than anywhere else in the world. Africa’s political leaders, so often caricatured for their willingness to hold on to power at all costs, are thinking more closely about helping this young talent flourish.

Many governments have created new platforms for innovators and entrepreneurs. They are also re-thinking how education should be provided to create a generation of people who can create businesses.

Of course, we cannot pretend that widespread poverty is not an issue on the continent. But we should celebrate the fact that things are changing and that this is being recognised by countries like the UK.

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