Last week, Theresa May visited South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya with a delegation of senior ministers and business representatives.
The trip was widely seen as an opportunity for the prime minister to promote UK trade after Brexit and demonstrate a “Global Britain”.
The UK government made several important funding announcements, including a pledge that aid spending must align with the UK’s security interests and further private sector investment (as we covered last week). Here are the key funding announcements made regarding international development.
Funding for stability and resilience in Somalia
Visiting a counter-IED (improvised explosive device) training centre in Nairobi, May announced over £7m new funding from the Conflict Stability and Security Fund to support the African Union’s peacekeeping mission in Somalia.
Additionally, over £60m will be invested from the Department for International Development’s (DfID) baseline budget to assist resilience and recovery from the impact of conflict and drought for over a million people. More than £25m will be provided to help establish a democratic system in Somalia.
Economic prosperity through agriculture
Penny Mordaunt, the secretary of state for international development, announced further UK aid support to protect the agricultural sector in Africa, with £55m provided to UK investor AgDevCo to enable early-stage agricultural businesses to expand and create jobs.
The UK is also investing £20m to co-fund the Food Trade and Resilience Programme with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
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Visiting Kenya, the prime minister announced that UK aid would help 5,000 Kenyan girls get back into education after dropping out of school due to early marriage, motherhood and gender-based violence.
An investment of £36m from 2019-2024 will help the government of Kenya to increase access to modern family planning services in 19 countries, supporting at least 320,000 additional users of safe contraception.
£200m will fund a new programme, WISH, to ensure 3 million extra girls, women and men consistently gain access to life-saving voluntary contraception. These investments align with the UK’s commitment to invest at least an average of £225m in voluntary family planning every year until 2022.
Aid pledged to support UK’s security interests and private sector investment
The prime minister’s speech in Cape Town on 28 August centred on creating a new partnership between the UK and African countries built around shared prosperity and security. Stating her ambition for the UK to be the largest G7 investor in Africa, May announced an additional £4bn programme of UK investment in African economies, with the Commonwealth Development Corporation investing a further £3.5bn in African nations over the next four years.
She added that UK aid should be accompanied with the ability to leverage private sector investment and anti-corruption efforts. She emphasised her pride in the UK’s role in international development and the UK government’s commitment to the 0.7% Official Development Assistance target, asserting: “I want to be clear: foreign aid works”.
As covered last week, May said that there was a “need to ensure that our aid programme works for the UK”, aligning aid spending with wider national security priorities.
Claire Godfrey, head of policy and campaigns at Bond, responded to the prime minister’s speech in a letter to the Guardian, agreeing with the PM’s assertion that overseas aid works, but saying that UK aid should not be bound to post-Brexit economic needs.
Prioritising economic development regardless of the cost to the environment or world’s poorest risks exacerbating poverty and inequality. Godfrey called for transparent and principled investment, with companies embracing their wider responsibilities to society, such as women’s economic empowerment and inclusion of those with disabilities in the workforce.
See the full list of announcements during the prime minister’s trip on the government’s website.