Alok Sharma visiting children in a school in Nigeria.


INDIAN origin international development secretary, Alok Sharma visited Nigeria in his first overseas trip in the role to see how UK aid is helping to generate trade and investment opportunities – both for African and British businesses.

Nigeria is Africa’s largest economy and during the two-day trip, which concluded on Friday (2), Sharma met the country’s vice president Yemi Osinbajo as well as Nigerian and British business leaders.

They discussed the billions of pounds worth of opportunities for UK trade and investment ahead of the UK-Africa Investment Summit, which is due to take place in London next year.

International Development Secretary Alok Sharma said: “On my first overseas trip as International Development Secretary to Nigeria, I saw first-hand Africa’s potential and am excited at the prospect of helping to develop this further at next year’s UK-Africa Investment Summit in London.

“I saw how a power plant, part-funded by UK aid, is lighting up schools and hospitals, creating jobs and supporting economic growth. This is lifting people out of poverty and helping to grow Britain’s trading partners of the future.”

Sharma also visited the Viathan Independent Power Plant in Lagos – supported by UK aid – which provides power for street lights, schools, hospitals and public buildings, that are critical for Nigerians to access healthcare, education and employment.

He also went to Kaduna in northern Nigeria where he visited a primary school to see how UK aid is helping children receive at least 12 years of quality education.

The programme includes training teachers to deliver core subjects like English, maths and science, as well as improving school enrolment and attendance.

By 2050, one in 10 children will be born in Nigeria and the country needs more than 3.9 million new jobs every year to keep pace with population growth.

Since 2015, UK aid has helped 360,000 children gain a decent education in Nigeria which will, in turn, help them find jobs and boost incomes.

This visit comes ahead of the UK-Africa Investment Summit – which is being co-ordinated by the Department for International Development, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Department for International Trade – which is due to take place in London in January 2020.

The UK-Africa Investment Summit will bring together businesses, governments and international organisations to strengthen the partnership between the UK and Africa and help generate billions of pounds of opportunities for both British and African businesses.

The UK aims to be the biggest G7 investor in Africa by 2022 and is supporting Nigeria’s economic development through specialist expertise and financial products such as bonds.

The UK is looking to provide £1 million through a new partnership with the Private Infrastructure Development Group (PIDG) to give countries like Nigeria the expertise they need to develop such local currency bonds.

Nigeria could, through these bonds, raise the finance it needs to invest in infrastructure and create jobs.