Between the 13th and 16th of November, the MEDays forum was held in Morocco with an attendance of over 2,500 delegates, 150 international international guest speakers and around 80 government representatives. The agenda was focused on debating issues regarding the geostrategic, political and economic importance of Mediterranean, African and Arab states.
After the conference, HE Bill Rammell, former Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Bedfordshire was interviewed by Sputnik. The interview consisted of expanding several points spoken in the conference during Mr. Rammell’s speech. HE was also questioned during the interview about the possible impacts of Brexit in Africa.
Sputnik asked Mr.Rammell about the interests of the UK in its investment policies, and why does it more often drive out other investors rather than attract. To which HE replied “I think all nations seek to increase their respective levels of investment; that’s not necessarily ousting others, but it’s doing the best by your own nation.” While also enforcing that the UK holds very strong political and economic bonds with African nations due to historical factors. Following the answer, Sputnik asks what are the steps that can be seen from the UK, regarding African structural and infrastructural development, given the statement “it is necessary to oust competitors from the continent.” HE Bill Rammell replied:
“The point I was making in my presentation at this conference is that leaving the European Union – which I think is a retrograde step in terms of the UK’s national interests – probably means that the UK is, therefore, as a consequence more desperate to do trade negotiations and deals with nations outside the European Union, and that means African nations have more opportunity and more leverage in negotiating those arrangements with the United Kingdom than has historically been the case.”
Regarding trade, Mr. Rammell was also asked to comment on the trade agreement signed in September by the UK, Mozambique and South Africa. HE was also asked during the same question some of the reasons that made Africa such a promising market to invest in the future. “I think it’s the GDP growth rates, which are historically very strong, averaging 4.6 per cent; that means that there’s a real opportunity.”HE Bill Rammell replied. “It’s the advancement of the technology sector; it’s upscale in the educational levels and qualification levels amongst the African populace, all of which mean that over the medium to the longer term, Africa is going to become more prosperous, it’s going to become a more fertile environment within which to invest.” Rammell added.
Sputnik asked one final question regarding the eagerness of the UK to join new markets post-Brexit and how can Africa benefit from trade cooperation seeing the region “is primarily interested in financing, investing, and developing infrastructure” according to Sputnik. To which HE replied that the details of these trades are not certain, but politically African nations will have more ground at asserting their during future negotiations. Rammell also talked about the African perspective which is something that according to him “the African nations will want to take advantage of.”
The full interview can be accessed by clicking here.