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Making the case to the world to Invest in Africa

INVESTING IN AFRICA: Prime minister Theresa May meets Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari during her trip to Africa

WE ALL remember the ambition and the excitement of being a teenager. The urgency of wanting to get on with everything – growing up, earning money, being independent and building a future.

As I’ve seen first-hand, the vibrant and dynamic continent of Africa – with young and growing populations – is buzzing with this energy and excitement.

But this driving force of youth also presents a challenge.

Eighteen million new jobs are needed every year between now and 2035, just to keep pace with fast-growing youth populations across Africa. Nigeria alone needs to create around 6,000 new jobs every single day until 2030.

PICTURED: Minister for Africa Harriett Baldwin

Creating this many new jobs is going to require fresh ambition, new partnerships and practical changes.

Without jobs and opportunities, the energetic and eager African teenagers of today could become the disillusioned youth of tomorrow – potentially taking stability and prosperity backwards, with negative fallout far beyond Africa.

But I am clear – it is not for Africa alone to meet this youth jobs challenge. What’s more, I want the world to see this not as a problem we have to solve, but as an opportunity we all stand to benefit from.

There exists across the continent great potential, fast growth and real momentum. It is home to five of the world’s fastest growing economies, and some calculate that Africa’s GDP could double between 2015 and 2030. The question is how to turn that growth into jobs.

The answer? Every African leader I meet tells me the same thing: by using the power of business, investment and trade we can harness this catalytic youth force and fast-growing African economies, to create millions of jobs that empower young people and meet the aspirations of Africa’s next generation.

What’s more, it’s a genuine win-win. These emerging African markets – the agriculture innovations coming out of Kenya, the fast-growing fintech companies of Lagos, the manufacturing hubs in Ethiopia – offer exciting opportunities for British investors and businesses.

By supporting African-led ambitions with expertise and investment, we can deliver more export opportunities, more jobs and stronger economies – across Africa, at home and around the world.

This summer, the prime minister visited South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya – three Commonwealth countries with growing democracies, strong international ties, fast-changing economies, and important historical, societal and people-to-people relationships with the UK.

On this visit, the prime minister announced a new £4 billion package of UK investment which stands to directly support over half a million jobs across Africa, and she made the case for using both UK aid and City of London expertise to unlock major private sector investment into African businesses and markets.

This month the prime minister took this message to the world stage, joining prime minister Justin Trudeau of Canada, president Nana Akufo-Addo of Ghana and president Paul Kagame of Rwanda – alongside young entrepreneurs and international investors – at the United Nations General Assembly, to call on the world to #InvestinAfrica. The event gave young Africans the opportunity to tell the world about the investment opportunities their countries present and the type of investment they need.

There is still work to be done – it is estimated that $1.2 trillion needs to be invested in Africa every year if we are to achieve the Global Goals that would lift people out of poverty for good and help more African nations move beyond the need for aid. And that investment needs to be sustainable and spread benefits right across society.

But we are taking an important step in the right direction.

Around the world, we are all connected by the desire to work, to earn and to provide for our families, in the pursuit of a healthier and more prosperous future. By convening businesses, governments, investors and young people, we can drive a step-change that puts jobs, skills and markets at the heart of a mutually beneficial UK-Africa investment partnership.

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