The UK Government has been criticised for its “incoherent” Africa strategy ahead of the British troop deployment to Mali.
In a new report by the House of Lords International Relations and Defence Committee they lambaste the government for what they see as a lack of a coherent UK strategy to its engagement with Africa.
It adds that the ‘strategic approach’ launched in 2018 has failed to live up to its name, and is just a collection of broad ideas with little clarity on how to put them into action.
Baroness Anelay of St Johns, chairwoman of the committee, told The Daily Telegraph that the strategy was “incoherent because they haven’t said what the action plan is”.
She cautioned that while the Government “have given a succession of statements saying they have an Africa strategy”, it was nothing more than a “a nice wish list of virtues but they haven’t said what the action is”.
While Baroness Anelay applauded the fact that British troops will return to the front line with a 250-strong unit dispatched to Mali later this year, she said the focus needed to be “across the whole of Sub-Saharan Africa”.
“We welcome the UK’s increased attention to instability in the Sahel, as part of the ‘strategic approach’, but are concerned that the Government’s wider strategy in the Sahel is unclear, and the UK risks being unable to add value in a highly contested space,” the report, ‘The UK and Sub-Saharan Africa: prosperity, peace and development co-operation’, said.
At the start of this year Alok Sharma said post-Brexit Britain would be able to “turbo-charge” relations with Africa after Brexit by striking trade and business deals across the continent, while Greg Hands, former trade minister and Erastus Mwencha, former deputy chairperson of the African Union Commission, wrote in this newspaper that “for too long, Africa has been overlooked and undervalued as a trading partner”.
“Through collaboration, innovation and endeavour, we can not only cement our place in the global market, but also support Africa’s continued growth and bring prosperity to both partners,” they said.
However, the committee has since requested a new approach to the countries of Africa and regional institutions such as the African Union, based on ‘genuine partnership’, including supporting reform of the UN Security Council to give African nations a voice “commensurate with their size and importance”.
Baroness Anelay called on the Department of International Trade and the Home Office to “work closely together” so that business between Africa and the UK could be done in a smoother fashion.
“This is very strongly about the economy and social opportunities,” she said.
“Despite a significant fanfare when it was launched in 2018 the Government’s ‘new strategic approach’ to Africa has failed to live up to its name.
“It is time to press the reset button, and use the timing of the UK’s exit from the EU and the Integrated Review of foreign, defence, security and international development policy to develop an action plan for a new relationship based on genuine partnership.”
The post UK Government criticised for ‘incoherent’ Africa strategy by House of Lords appeared first on The Telegraph.