Prime Minister Theresa May will make a three-nation visit to Africa this week, her first to the continent since becoming British leader in 2016, aimed at boosting post-Brexit trade ties.
May, joined by several ministers and 29 business representatives from various industries, will visit South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya during the three-day trip, Downing Street said Monday.
She will be the first British prime minister to set foot in Kenya since Margaret Thatcher in 1988.
“As we prepare to leave the European Union, now is the time for the UK to deepen and strengthen its global partnerships,” May said in a statement.
“Africa stands right on the cusp of playing a transformative role in the global economy,” she added.
“As longstanding partners this trip is a unique opportunity at a unique time for the UK to set out our ambition to work even closer together.”
The delegation will land in Cape Town on Tuesday, where May will meet South African President Cyril Ramaphosa as well as business leaders and young people.
She will use a speech on the opening day to set out how Britain can bolster its partnership with Africa, “particularly by bringing the transformative power of private sector trade and investment from the UK”, her office said.
May will present Ramaphosa with the bell from the troopship Mendi, which sank in the English Channel in 1917 drowning more than 600 mainly South African troops set to join the Allied forces fighting in World War I.
It was the worst maritime disaster in the African country’s history, and has become a symbol of its WWI remembrance.
The prime minister is also expected to visit Robben Island where former president Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for decades to commemorate the 100th anniversary of his birth.
May will head to Nigeria on Wednesday for meetings with President Muhammadu Buhari in the capital Abuja and with victims of modern slavery in Lagos.
On Thursday she will meet Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, shortly after his return from seeing US President Donald Trump in Washington and before he travels to China to meet President Xi Jinping.
The prime minister will then see British troops in training action and tour a business school, before concluding the trip at a state dinner hosted by Kenyatta.
Among those joining May are representatives of the London Stock Exchange, the Scotch Whisky Association and manufacturing firm JCB.