Theresa May
British Prime Minister Theresa May reviews a military guard of honour at the State House in Nairobi on August 30, 2018. - May wraps up a three day tour of Africa in Kenya as she seeks to drum up post-Brexit deals before quitting the European Union on a continent which has increasingly looked elsewhere for trade and investment. (YASUYOSHI CHIBA/AFP/Getty Images)

British Prime Minister Theresa May would have given South Africa a miss, were it not for South Africa’s change in presidents six months before.

May’s predecessor, David Cameron, planned a big visit to Africa in July 2016 to revitalize relations, the Johannesburg-based City Press reported Sept. 2. South Africa at the time was facing a storm over state capture allegations surrounding former President Jacob Zuma, and was not placed on Cameron’s itinerary. His visit never took place because May took over as Conservative leader earlier than anticipated.

Zuma paid a state visit to the U.K. in 2010, but May’s was the first visit of a U.K. head of state to South Africa since 2013, when Cameron attended former President Nelson Mandela’s funeral.

“South Africa was added in because it wasn’t on the plan in 2016,” a British official told City Press. “It’s obvious that South Africa was struggling in 2016 and our relationship was suffering as a reflection of that. The relationship at the top level was nothing like it is now.”

May, who traveled with a business delegation, delivered her speech spelling out the UK’s Africa investment-focused policy in Cape Town — the same city where British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan in 1960 made his “winds of change” speech that started a process of decolonization and independence for African nations.

With the finalization of Brexit negotiations imminent, May announced an expansion of British operations on the continent, including new missions in Mali, Chad, Lesotho and Eswatini. She also sought trade allies in Africa as the Brexit timeline looms.

May also announced that the U.K. wanted to become number one in Africa among the G7 investors by 2022. America is the current number one.

Overall, however, Britain was facing tough competition from China, which “has been setting the pace on investment” in Africa. Britain is still bigger than China in terms of stock, but China’s flows are now bigger.

May’s visit came on the eve of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation in Beijing, where African heads of state will meet with China to discuss cooperation and investment. President Cyril Ramaphosa is also paying a state visit to China ahead of the forum.

“While we cannot compete with the economic might of some foreign governments investing in Africa, what we can offer is long-term investment of the very highest quality and breadth,” she said, with apparent reference to China.

Guyana Recommits to Improving Lives of Indigenous People

The Guyanese government is laying the foundation for greater equality in hinterland communities as it continues towards its aim of eliminating poverty in these areas.

This is according to President David Granger, who was at the time addressing dozens of persons gathered at the Sophia Exhibition Complex for the official opening of Indigenous Heritage Month on Saturday, the Guyana Chronicle reported.

This year, the celebrations are being held under the theme “Proud of Our Indigenous Identity — Celebrate in Unity” and among those at the launch were Minister of Indigenous People’s Affairs, Sydney Allicock; Junior Minister of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs, Valerie Garrido-Lowe; and members of the diplomatic corps.

Granger told the gathering that he has asked the National Toshaos Council (NTC) for a village improvement plan so that each village across the nation can benefit from the public services extended by the government.

He said each village would conform to a systematic approach so that amenities such as running water and telecommunications can be provided.

The president noted that the plans would be able to also attract businesses and persons interested in producing craft and agro-processed goods from those areas.

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WI Guest Author

This correspondent is a guest contributor to The Washington Informer.

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