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May dangles Sh1.8tr to boost Africa ties

Steve Umidha @steveumidha

Kenya is angling for a slice of Britain’s $18 billion (Sh1.8 trillion) international aid budget which the European nation intends to use to deepen trade ties with Africa.

Theresa May’s visit tomorrow, the first in 30 years by a sitting UK Prime Minister, provides a timely prospect for Kenyan government to discuss business prospects with Britain keen to spend the money to boost its interests as the country prepares to exit the European Union (EU), famously known as Brexit.

First trip

Kenya is one of the three African countries May is visiting in her first African trip, and whose purpose, is intended to provide prospects of increased trade with non-European Union countries to be used as one of the major selling points of Brexit as it prepares to leave the bloc.

In a speech in Cape Town, South Africa yesterday, May said she wanted Britain to become the biggest investor in Africa out of the Group of Seven nations (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, United Kingdom and United States) overtaking the United States, by using the aid budget to help British companies invest on the continent. May is in Nigeria today.

Under the banner of creating a “Global Britain” Trade Minister Liam Fox, a prominent proponent of Brexit, has cited International Monetary Fund research stating that 90 per cent of global growth next will be generated outside the EU.

Britain has held out the prospect of increased trade with non-European Union countries as one of the major selling points of Brexit as it prepares to leave the EU bloc, currently its biggest trading partner, in March next year.

Reinvigorate network

In April, Britain hosted a meeting of Commonwealth countries, including South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria, seeking to reinvigorate the network of mostly former colonies and drum up new trade amongst its members.

UK’s lawmakers, most of whom are aligned to May’s Conservative Party, want the aid budget to fund British companies to invest on the continent.

With a host of infrastructural projects — including those of the Big Four — both underway and in the pipeline, President Uhuru Kenyatta is tomorrow expected to lead his team in negotiating deals with that of May that comprises British business executives. – Additional reporting by Reuters

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