“Corruption robs a nation of its legitimate resources and stifles its growth”

But a recent heavily criticized migration deal signed with Rwanda has given relations with the continent a different edge.

The Commonwealth Heads of Government Conference – to be held in Kigali from June 20-26 – could provide the UK with an opportunity to reset the narrative.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson provided written responses to questions.

Is the new UK-Rwanda migration deal a sign of things to come, are we likely to see the UK processing migrants outside UK national borders?

There is no one-size-fits-all solution to the dangerous people traffickers who fuel dangerous and uncontrolled migration. I am proud of our partnership with the government of Rwanda, which helps counter the work of criminal smuggling gangs.

But it is only part of our broader strategy to overhaul the broken asylum system and ensure people can access safe and legal migration pathways. It has long been clear that the current way of doing things, with desperate people paying their life savings to smugglers and crossing the ocean in flimsy canoes, is not working.

Increasingly strict visa restrictions prevent Africans with valid reasons from visiting the UK – doesn’t this undermine the promise of a ‘global Britain’?

The UK is open to the world. Our businesses and universities are welcoming the best and the brightest from around the world, under a new post-Brexit visa system that is reducing disparities for non-EU visitors – we are already seeing an increase in skilled immigration in from outside Europe.

The Ukrainian refugee crisis has recently caused delays in visitor visa processing times, but African businesses, visitors and tourists are welcome and valued in the UK.

Africa will repeatedly lose out to climate change – unable to fully exploit hydrocarbon wealth, prevented from obtaining cheap energy to industrialize, worst hit by the effects of rising temperatures. Because self-interest is a powerful lever, is it worth reminding European nations what a climate exodus of migrants would really look like?

It is the great tragedy of the climate crisis that the countries that emitted the least emissions face some of the greatest threats from rising global temperatures.

The good news is that we now have the solutions to climate change at our fingertips. We know what works and how to marry new green technologies with rapid economic growth. The potential for this in Africa – to turn the continent’s vast natural solar, wind and hydropower resources into clean energy for its people – is limitless.

The UK is helping to mitigate the impacts already being felt on the front lines of climate change, including by strengthening flood defenses and supporting drought-resilient agriculture. And we are working with governments and industry to reverse the terrible loss of natural habitats and ensure Africa’s future transportation and power grids protect people and the planet.

French economic diplomacy in places like Nigeria and Kenya leaves its British counterparts in the dust. Can’t Brexit be an opportunity for British businesses? Current efforts seem small beer.

Free trade is the key to unlocking economic progress and fostering peace and prosperity in societies. I want the UK to be at the forefront of working with African partners on business innovation and the development of clean green infrastructure – and we support Africa’s vision of a free trade agreement. – continental exchange which, according to the World Bank, will lift 98 million people out of poverty by 2035 .

Leaving the European Union has presented huge opportunities for British businesses and investors to increase their trade with key economies like Nigeria and Kenya, which I am delighted to see they are seizing with both hands. The facts speak for themselves. Trade between the UK and Africa has increased by almost 30% compared to 2020, and we now have trade agreements with 18 countries on the continent, more than we had under the EU.


But we are not resting on our laurels, I am determined to see more British businesses in Africa bid for contracts and encourage talent and innovation.

The latest report from the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development estimates that around $88 billion in illicit financial flows (mostly tax evasion and deliberate fraudulent pricing schemes) left Africa in 2021, much of this money was funneled through British dependencies, such as the British Virgin Islands. , or tax havens like Jersey and Guernsey. Why does the UK government not better fund its anti-corruption and investigative agencies, given that reducing these flows would strengthen African economies and increase their capacity for legitimate trade with industrial economies such as Britain ?

Corruption deprives a nation of its legitimate resources and stifles economic growth. It’s odious. We work to tackle financial corruption around the world, raising the UK’s National Crime Agency settlement to £760m last year and providing direct technical assistance to African governments to tackle money laundering.

When funds are recovered, they can be reinvested in development – earlier this year, for example, £4.2million stolen by the Governor of Delta State in Nigeria and recovered by UK agencies was returned in Nigeria to be spent on key public infrastructure works.

It should be noted that the British Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies have their own elected governments which are responsible for their financial services policy. They have pledged to introduce publicly accessible registers showing who ultimately owns the companies registered there, which is a welcome and progressive step.

Your predecessor David Cameron described Nigeria as ‘fantastically corrupt’ then was later criticized by the Treasury Select Committee for pressuring ministers in an SMS campaign on behalf of Greensill Capital in which he had a stake important staff. Do British politicians have the moral right to lecture African governments on accountability and good governance?

I don’t believe in lecturing other governments and leaders. Every country can do more on accountability, but the reality is that the UK has strong institutions, a free and fair media and an independent judiciary to hold government to account.

We work in partnership with a number of African countries that are working to improve governance – in Tanzania, for example, the UK is helping the government implement its public financial management strategy, and in Zambia, we funded a civil society-run vote tracking system. in the recent elections.

Is the UK backing Lady Scotland for a second term at the helm of the Commonwealth?

We are of course grateful to Baroness Scotland for her service to the Commonwealth, but after consideration I have decided that the UK will support Jamaican candidate Kamina Johnson Smith to be the next Secretary General. She has the vast experience and support across the Commonwealth to unite our unique family of nations. As we emerge from the pandemic and deal with the global fallout from Russia’s barbaric invasion of Ukraine, a new Secretary General can meet the challenges head-on and seize the many opportunities the Commonwealth offers.

With Russia’s growing influence in the Sahel and France’s dwindling ability to weather the storm, what can the UK offer African governments in the Sahel or international efforts to promote peace and development?

It is important that the international community does not take its eyes off the Sahel, where Russian mercenaries and Daesh offshoots are sowing insecurity and suffering. I discussed this with my friend President Akufo-Addo in London a few months ago – the UK is committed to strengthening security cooperation with our allies in West Africa.

We fund the humanitarian response, provide £160m in aid to the region since 2019 and use our diplomatic presence in the region to promote peace and stability – through troop contributions to the UN mission in Mali, for example, and conflict resolution work. in Niger.

How can the UK positively influence the Ethiopian peace talks?

The crisis in Tigray is deeply concerning, threatening to set back recent democratic and economic progress in Ethiopia. The UK is committed to working with the parties to support the peace process, and my Minister for Africa, Vicky Ford, has worked with the government in Addis to get things done.

The only way to end the violence and alleviate the humanitarian crisis is through a negotiated political solution; we would like the parties to come together around the table for meaningful talks.