The Foreign Secretary announced a £750million package to support UK trade and investment in the former French colony where British firms are increasingly involved in the oil and gas, renewable energy, mining and agricultural sectors. And he signalled Government’s commitment to increasing British influence in French and Portuguese-speaking developing countries by also unveiling £3.9million for English language across sub-Saharan Africa. Diplomatic source yesterday described the move as a deliberate “poke in the eye” for French President Emmanuel Macron in the race for new overseas investment in Africa.
Mr Hunt is due to head to Ghana, Nigeria, Ethiopia and Kenya this week to make the case for closer cooperation with the UK.
He will officially launch the ‘English Connects’ programme, designed to reach 7.5million young Africans, at the Université Virtuelle du Sénégal in Dakar today.
Over the next two years, the programme will support the teaching and learning of English in sub-Saharan Africa countries where English is not currently widely spoken.
The funding includes £1.5 million from the British Council funding and £2.4 million from the Foreign Office over the next two years.
Ahead of his trip, Mr Hunt said: “Africa is a continent growing at an extraordinary rate, full of transformative potential.
“In a future where Britain is no longer a member of the EU, I want us to work within and alongside African nations to make sure, together, we combat the threats we all face, and capitalise on the opportunities open to people wherever they live.
“To do this, I want to set out the stall for the UK to be the new partner of choice across Africa.
“I know from personal experience that learning languages opens up new worlds of possibility for young people.
“There is an enormous appetite from young people across Africa to learn our language because English is the language of opportunity.
“That’s why we are providing new funding for English teaching to help many more young people access the possibilities that our language opens up, from London’s financial powerhouse to our world renowned arts and culture.”
Moses Anibaba, the British Council’s Regional Director for Sub-Saharan Africa, said: “The British Council is delighted that the Foreign Secretary will launch English Connects in Senegal.
“I cannot think of a better time for the UK and Africa to be forging new connections based on mutual interest and prospects.
“English Connects is a groundbreaking, innovative programme that responds to the high demand for English in Non-Anglophone countries in Africa, and helps fulfil the aspirations and potential of young Africans.”
Mr Hunt will say that £750 million from UK Export Finance will be used to support UK companies trading with Senegal and their Senegalese buyers.
British investment in Senegal has grown significantly in recent years, with the oil giant BP leading the development of recently-discovered offshore gas fields.
Mr Hunt is to inspect the work of the Royal Marines who are helping Senegal’s naval special forces to build a capability that will protect the country’s new offshore oil and gas installations, including those being built by British companies BP and Cairn Energy.
His visit follows the announcement last year that Britain will open new embassies in Niger and Chad, and expand our footprint in Senegal, Cote d’Ivoire, Mali and Mauritania.