Post-Brexit Britain opportunities in Angola
Boris Johnson has already “winked” at the new USA President, Joe Biden, and apparently does not hesitate to be a “spearhead” in transatlantic relations, just as he did in the Trump era. But the truth is that the United States has other priorities and the “special relationship” claimed by the British in relation to the Americans is something of a one-way sense, with little relevance in the design of Washington’s foreign policy. Anglo-European relations have always had ups and downs, and over time, they will possibly return to normal. However, at this point, they are rough and do not offer security.
Thus, it is obvious the UK needs reliable economic partners outside Europe and the USA during this period. Boris Johnson knows this, and so it came as no surprise when he said that the UK should be the preferred investment partner on the African continent. Recently, at the United Kingdom – Africa Investment Conference, he considered that “in Britain, we have a lot to learn from the ingenuity, energy and ambition of African entrepreneurship, as well as wealth creation”.
All UK business sectors can take advantage of closer ties with Africa. One of the important sectors could be fintech (financial technology). It is worth remembering that half of the world’s top 10 growing economies are located in Africa and digital technology is growing rapidly on the continent.
In the case of Angola, according to data from the local Ministry of Telecommunications, Information Technologies and Media, the country has a network of around 7 million internet users and has close to 15 million mobile phone users, figures that could and should improve, but that are not to be disregarded. The Angolan market is booming and has prioritised mobile devices. As already practised in Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy, the United Kingdom can also exploit Angola’s enormous potential in this field.
Incidentally, consider for instance companies that are dedicated to digital money transfer such as Azimo, which already handles billions of dollars in payments to African recipients of migrant workers in the United Kingdom. These payments are crucial for developing economies, especially in this period of crisis due to the COVID-19 pandemic. These payment methods can stimulate new markets for other financial services and provide people with access to very helpful tools for various types of investments, such as savings accounts, commercial loans, pension funds or something related to the insurance area.
Yet, it might not be just British companies that benefit. Take Kenya’s M-Pesa as an example. This company is considered an outstanding model of technological innovation and in issues related to mobile payments is far ahead of its European counterparts. Thus, British companies could take advantage of the additional know-how and of this technical advantage.
In addition, even though we are aware that Asia, particularly China, is being the main catalyst for Africa’s development, particularly in terms of trade, the United Kingdom has some competitive advantages over Asian countries.
Firstly, it enjoys the privilege of having a common time zone. Much of the African continent has a trading schedule comparable to that of the United Kingdom, thus making cooperation and trade much more spontaneous and uncomplicated.
The second factor is the language itself. The United Kingdom was the largest world empire, and this was also reflected in Africa. English is the most widely spoken language on the continent, with around 700 million non-native speakers. Obviously, in Angola, English is not spoken, but there is a strong capacity for linguistic adaptation, with Portuguese speakers generally finding it easier to speak other languages.
Finally, there is a growing African diaspora in the United Kingdom, and naturally this is deepening cultural ties. More than 1.5 million Africans live in his majesty’s land, and as expected, many send money back to their country of origin. With a country geared towards ingenuity and entrepreneurship, it is of paramount importance to encourage and invest in these characteristics of the African people.
If Boris Johnson is really committed to promoting trade relations with Africa, it would be advisable to support this intention with pro-trade investment policies. Otherwise, the British government will waste a great opportunity to partner with the most promising region in the world.