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The coming of Boris Johnson, Brexit and expectations for Africa

September 06th, 2019
topics:Humans, Economy
by:Ndubuaku Kanayo
located in:United Kingdom, China
tags:Africa, Boris Johnson, Brexit, EU, United States

A former British Foreign Secretary and erstwhile Mayor of London, Mr Boris Johnson has successfully won the election as leader of the Conservative Party becoming the country's next Prime Minister.

Mr. Johnson, the 76th Prime Minister of the country, succeeded Theresa May who announced her resignation some months back.

The author turned politician comfortably defeated his rival, a former Foreign Secretary, Jeremy Hunt by 92,153 votes to 46,656 representing 66.4 percent. The two were among the top contenders for the highest administrative office in Britain.

Mr Johnson faces a herculean task of uniting Britain, which is largely divided due to the Brexit drive. Britain has experienced extensive political uncertainty ever since the citizenry decided in a referendum to leave the EU two years ago.

As it stands, Britain has up to the 31st of October, this year to deliver Brexit, a feat Mr Johnson and his team have promised to achieve assiduously.

Where does Africa, the continent of the rising sun stand ?

Countries in the Africa continent are growing rapidly, both in terms of their economies and population. Most African economists differ on how this new development will translate into prosperity in the coming decades, but they seem to agree on two basic things - Africa needs a greater regional integration, and most importantly an intense focus on domestic manufacturing, especially agricultural machinery and goods for domestic consumption – a departure from the old colonial pattern of exporting raw resources and importing food that largely benefited the former imperialists.

Britain abandoning the EU, coupled with its long term decline in manufacturing will pose a big challenge as it tends to compete with other countries for the continent's rich economic resources.

Britain's initial policy geared towards encouraging exports to Africa to the benefit of the British economy will need to be revisited most especially as it contrasts starkly with some EU countries like Germany, whose investments in the African manufacturing industry has continuously improved over time.

Also, the continuous penetration of China and most recently, the visibility of India in the African market has proved a major challenge in Britain's trade relations with Africa.

According to a Foresight Africa 2018 report, China accounts for 14 percent of sub-Saharan Africa’s total debt stock becoming the region’s largest creditor and trade partner having surpassed the US in 2009.

But with the coming of a Prime Minister who is keen on delivering Britain's exit from the EU, some are of the opinion that this would usher in new trade deals between London and the largest black continent.

"Brexit is positive for Africa. Boris Johnson and his government are particularly positive. If anything, restrictions went up [under the EU]," says Rob Hersov, a South African and the founder and chairman of Invest Africa.

If Britain's new government does leave the EU then, Mr Hersov predicts, "doors will open". The leftist colonial narrative is dead. The reality is that Africa has a very positive view of Britain. Everyone will be lining up to do deals," he explained.

The Johnson led government is expected to play key roles not just in the economy but also in key African issues like security, migration, climate change, health emergencies and disease outbreak.

It is also believed that his administration will continue contributing at least 0.7% of its national income on foreign aid and development - a commitment that its Department for International Development says enhances the UK's reputation as "a development superpower".

That being said, Mr Johnson's government may as well prefer adopting a new model of focusing, supporting and financing African entrepreneurs, as traditional aid models have come under severe criticism for its ineffectiveness as a result of corruption and mismanagement.

Can Mr. Johnson's Anti-African Past Influence the relationship between the UK and Africa ?

The coming of Borris Johnson and his anti-African past might influence the socio-economic relationship between the UK and Africa in the coming days. Prior to his entry into politics, Boris Johnson, a former journalist defended the history of colonialism, saying that it would be best if African countries were still colonized.

The new Prime Minister who coincidentally shares some similarities with Donald Trump had also used some languages to describe black people which many consider racist – Although he has apologised, many believe that this might influence his foreign policy and trade relations towards the African continent.

Relations between nations and continents might sometimes look very complex and multifaceted, should the new British government open the door for new deals, it's expected that African governments will ignore Mr Johnson's comments and get down to business.

Article written by:
Ndubuaku Kanayo
Ndubuaku Kanayo
Author
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Africa needs a greater regional integration, and most importantly an intense focus on domestic manufacturing, especially agricultural machinery and goods for domestic consumption
A departure from the old colonial pattern of exporting raw resources and importing food that largely benefited the former imperialists.
Also, the continuous penetration of China and most recently, the visibility of India in the African market has proved a major challenge in Britain's trade relations with Africa.
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