A closer look at the opportunities and issues for UK businesses and future trade with Africa. The UK, with London at its heart, is a historic hub for global trade and has always striven to be at the forefront of expansion into new markets. Today, no other continent offers such a unique mix of opportunity and challenge as Africa.
Many view Africa like a half-empty glass, citing its relatively small GDP, which is less than the UK’s. I can’t help but look at the continent as a glass half full. It represents a huge opportunity for UK business in terms of its future growth prospects alone. And with its population, huge land area and untapped natural resources, Africa’s potential is significant. The question is, ‘Why hasn’t this potential been realised?’ In comparison to a market like China, which over the last three decades has become a global trade leader and brought millions out of poverty, Africa has remained seemingly dormant. This is not surprising due to its long-term issues of corruption, infrastructure, transport and the extensive bureaucracy of 54, predominantly landlocked, countries. But change is happening and the challenge is to navigate these issues to maximise trade.
Opportunities exist in Africa for UK businesses, especially for those with an entrepreneurial spirit. And I believe they far outweigh the challenges. British products and services are well regarded for quality and are in high demand. There are even greater opportunities for businesses prepared to enter the market and establish operations on the ground. The Barclays Africa Survey is our way of gauging the current attitudes and opinions of business leaders towards the state of African trade. I hope it gives some insight into the role Africa might play in future trade opportunities and inspire discussion about its validity as a serious growth prospect for UK business.
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