AFRICA – UK investors attending the UK-Africa investment summit have been urged by the President of the Africa African Development Bank President Akinwumi Adesina to engage in “partnership of change,” with Africa.

Adesina made the call during his keynote address at the UK Parliamentary Symposium which was co-organized by the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Africa with the Royal African Society, Oxford Brookes University, and the Trade Justice Network under the theme UK-Africa Trade and Brexit.

“The Africa of the 21st century is very different. The Africa of the 21st century is new and more confident,” he said.

He thus urged Africa and the UK to be significant trading partners noting with concern that the trade between the two partners had significantly gone down from a $49 billion peak in 2012, to a low $30.6 billion in 2018.

Adesina said that the decline in UK trade and investment in Africa was happening against a backdrop of projected business-to-business and consumer-to-consumer expenditures of $5.6 trillion by 2020, and a food and agriculture market worth $1 trillion by 2030.

“The fact that we are having this conversation in the UK Parliament is a great start. The convening of this Summit by Prime Minister Boris Johnson is an even greater start,” he acknowledged.

President Adesina used his engagement at the House of Commons to share Africa’s investment opportunities, which according to him “speak for themselves.”

He noted that trading under the African Continental Free Trade Agreement brings great prospects given that it represents a market of more than 1.3 billion people and a gross domestic product of $2.5 trillion.

The ACFTA which starts in July is also the world’s largest free trade area since establishment of the World Trade Organization.

Adesina also told UK investors while speaking at the UK-Africa Investment Summit Sustainable Forum that “Investing in quality and sustainable infrastructure can spur Africa’s economic transformation.”

The Forum, organized by the Department of International Development (DFID) and Her Majesty’s Trade Commissioner for Africa, seeks to facilitate new investment and commercial opportunities for the UK and promote quality infrastructure to deliver better services to African citizens.

AfDB has been a forerunner in the race to rapidly close the continent’s infrastructure gap, which Adesina suggested be renamed “Africa’s infrastructure demand opportunity.”

Investors who tapped early into information and communications technology infrastructure in Africa have seen those investments become game changers for Africa, he noted.

The African Development Bank has been a major investor in infrastructure development in the electricity, transport, and water sectors across Africa.

Cumulatively, the Bank’s funding for infrastructure on the continent rose by 22% from $66.9 billion in 2016 to $81.6 billion in 2017.

During the same period, the value of infrastructure projects with private sector participation has increased from $3.6 billion to $5.2 billion.