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Britain Plans GBP 160 Million for African Hydropower, Trade Preferences for 65 Developing Economies

Former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the United Kingdom’s plan to invest GBP 160 million to support clean energy in Africa, as well as a preferential trade system between 65 developing countries to build partnerships and liberalize tariffs.

September 24, 2022

The United Kingdom will invest GBP 160 million (USD 195 million/EUR 185 million) to support the development of clean energy in Africa—a plan that could create more than 180,000 jobs and cut carbon emissions while generating electricity for 3 million people.

Then British Prime Minister Boris Johnson presented the plan on June 23, 2022 at the Commonwealth Business Forum in Kigali, Rwanda.

He also announced a “preferential trade system” for 65 developing countries, including 18 Commonwealth members, from July 6.

This will involve “liberalizing our tariffs, getting rid of those pointless tariffs that are totally vexatious, that cost more to collect than the revenues you get from them—they exist—and improving our rules of origin to make it easier for all our countries to benefit,” Johnson said. “And what I feel so strongly about the Commonwealth is it’s not just about imports and exports—it’s about the partnerships we build; it’s about doing more together to ensure that everyone prospers from the new green industrial revolution.”

Many African countries can power economies entirely with hydro, solar, and wind energy, Johnson told Commonwealth leaders, noting that Kenya, for instance, gets 90% of its electricity from renewable sources.

“I see a fantastic future for all of us in these initiatives, for all of us,” he said. “And we, with our Clean Green Initiative in the UK, want to be the partner of choice of our African friends as you transform millions of lives with modern infrastructure, meeting the highest standards of transparency and environmental protection.”

Johnson described the Commonwealth as a “miracle fertilizer, a fertilizer of business” that helped businesses expand, increase their profits and lower their costs.

“I can prove that fertilizer knocks 21% off the cost of trade between commonwealth members. That’s 21% bigger profits if you do deals between the commonwealth, that’s 21% efficiencies without the expense of management consultants,” he said.

He said now is the time to “turbocharge those advantages” as the Commonwealth’s total gross domestic product is expected to climb by almost 50% to USD 19,500 billion. These “super fertilized markets will power growth and prosperity and create jobs in our countries, and at the same time help to ease those pressures that we all face on the cost of living,” he added.

Johnson also praised the African Continental Free Trade Area, which he said could generate “far, far more” capital than Africa could ever receive in development aid.

The 3-day Commonwealth Business Forum brought together government leaders, captains of industry and business executives, leaders of global and regional development institutions, young entrepreneurs, and representatives of trade and investment organizations from across the Commonwealth. It drew some 1,500 delegates, and participants explored topics such as financing growth, trade and regional integration, and the future of work.

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