People across all nations are asking about the impact of Brexit on the world, but only a few are asking the very important question of, “What will be Brexit’s impact on Africa?” As powerful countries such as the U.S. and Germany wait anxiously for the final vote count, anticipating possible financial fallout, the third world has much larger concerns, especially Africa.
Brexit Implications on Africa: Humanitarian, Political and Economic
Whether or not there will be a recession in Britain following the country’s exit from the EU is unclear, but what is certain is that if an economic crisis does occur, Africa will be hit hard.
Great Britain has long been a strong trading ally for Africa, and according to The Chicago Tribune, the European Union has preferential trade agreements with every African country except for Libya and South Sudan.
Due to the Brexit, British officials will now have to rewrite many of their trade agreements with African nations, which will take extensive time and manpower. However, this could prove to be fruitful for Africa, as strict regulations such as the Common Agricultural Policy — set in place by the EU will no longer apply to trade legislation.
According to the European Commission, the Common Agricultural Policy is an EU initiative aimed at invigorating “agricultural productivity, so that consumers have a stable supply of healthy food”. Part of this policy grants subsidies to European farmers to promote sustainable agriculture and the growth of healthy food.
BBC reports that African farmers feel as though the subsidies attached to the Common Agricultural Policy “undermine the concept of a level playing field”. The U.K. agrees with their African allies and adamantly fought for policy reformation before their exit. Brexit’s impact on Africa will not only be economic, for it will also influence the political and humanitarian realm.
The U.K. and Aid to Africa
Prior to the U.K.’s decision to leave the European Union, it had incredible authority over the EU’s political and humanitarian initiatives in Africa.
The European Development Fund, according to the Chicago Tribune, is “the European Union’s main vehicle for providing development aid to Africa”. Britain was a leading voice in dictating the mission of the fund, as the third biggest contributor at 14 percent.
Even more impressive was the U.K.’s power over the African Peace Facility and its backing of the African Union Mission in Somalia. Britain made sure that the EU paid for 90 percent of the program, a 22,000-strong multinational force that protects the Somali Federal Government from the extremist militant group al-Shabab.
Before the Brexit, Britain was already beginning to lose their battle over policy in Somalia as the rest of the EU voted to pull some funding, hinting at a divided opinion about African aid.
The future of European policy in Africa is ambiguous, as one of the continent’s most passionate advocates is no longer a member of the EU. While this may seem like troubling news for Africa, the Brexit could turn out to be a blessing for the entire region.
The U.K. will no longer be held back by the EU’s restrictive guidelines as it applies to foreign policy and unless recession strikes Britain’s economy, it is likely that they will stay true to their promise of providing 0.7 percent of their gross national income to African aid.
– Liam Travers
Photo: Public Domain Images