A Nigerian tech entrepreneur, Joel Popoola, has been selected to head up a task force aiming to improve trading ties between Africa and the United Kingdom.
Popoola, a digital democracy campaigner and creator of the Rate Your Leader app, is to lead a Special Interest Group for Africa established by the UK’s Institute of Directors – one of the world’s oldest and most prestigious business leader groups
Institute of Directors Africa Special Interest Group (IoD Africa SIG) will stimulate business opportunities, increase networking, and grow awareness of British businesses in Africa – and African businesses in Britain.
A launch event of the IoD Africa SIG is to be held in London on 19 May 2022 with all African diplomatic missions – and some heads of state – expected to attend.
Prior to the launch, a series of bi-monthly online roundtables will be held to discuss post-Covid and Brexit business opportunities for UK and African businesses.
The UK government has already negotiated eight free trade agreements with African countries and trading blocs since Brexit, creating tariff and duty-free trade between Britain and 30 African nations – this means significant opportunities for African consumers and companies, not least in the continent’s 24 Anglophone countries.
Britain currently has free trade agreements with Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, the Eastern and Southern African trade bloc (Mauritius, Seychelles and Zimbabwe), Egypt, Ghana, Morocco, Southern African Customs Union (Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Namibia and South Africa), Mozambique, and Tunisia.
Popoola said: “One UK parliamentary report recently noted that UK-Africa trade has ‘flat-lined’ and accounts for just 2.5 per cent of all UK trade. But before Covid-19 the world’s five fastest-growing economies were all African, and regional leaders like South Africa and Nigeria are likely to become superpowers of the global economy as we move towards the second half of this century. More needs to be done on both sides to take advantage of the opportunities on offer.
“As one of the World’s most influential and established business leader forums – with royal endorsement dating back to 1906 – the Institute of Directors is the ideal forum to develop opportunities for UK-based firms who want to establish and grow new businesses in Africa and vice versa.
“As a proud African, and on a personal note, I hope the establishment of this Special Interest Group come to be seen as an important step to a free trade agreement between my nation, Nigeria, and the United Kingdom.”