WITH Brexit turning out to be a messy divorce for the UK, one wonders if it would not have been cheaper to stay married to the EU. But since it’s almost a done deal, Prime Minister Theresa May has set about wooing key Commonwealth countries in Africa in preparation for her post-Brexit trade blues. Her African safari took her to South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya.
But May’s tour delivered a number of awkward moments along the way. She got a grilling by Channel 4’s Michael Crick over Britain’s “non-role” in supporting the anti-apartheid Struggle and the release of Nelson Mandela.
Then there was Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta’s gaffe when he could not recall Boris Johnson’s surname - calling him “the bicycle guy”, to May’s embarrassment. Almost like a headmaster retrospectively chastising a learner, Kenyatta nonetheless commended May for stopping by 30 years after the last British premier to do so.
But May had a reason to dance when wrapping up her trip. She probably succeeded in coalescing key partners behind her post-Brexit life. But all African leaders should be vigilant to guard their interests. Without the benefits of the scale in the EU - Africa’s major trading partner - the UK needs renewed friendships in Africa, the centre stage of world trade and economic growth for the next half century.
Africa’s 1.2 billion people and projected by the UN to top 2.5 billion in 2050, present an attractive market for any industrialised nation.