Britain will team up with UAE to expand African ports amidst competition from China

The UK will invest hundreds of millions of pounds into improving African port infrastructure in a bid to win a “battle for economic influence” against “malign actors”.

The CDC Group finance institution owned by the UK government, of which the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office is the sole shareholder, yesterday launched plans to underwrite a £1.25 billion plan to expand ports in Senegal, Egypt, and Somaliland.

The expanded Berbera port would compete with neighbouring Djibouti, where most Ethiopian shipping traffic currently runs through.

The CDC will funnel around £515,000 toward updating the ports of Dakar on the Atlantic, Sokhna on the Red Sea, and Berbera on the Gulf of Aden.

UAE-based logistics group DP World will invest the remaining £710,000, as part of what they described as a “long-term partnership to accelerate Africa’s long-term trade potential”.

Foreign secretary Liz Truss, has said via Twitter that the projects will offer “reliable and honest investment in developing countries” along with opportunities for UK business.

In March it was reported that US President Joe Biden suggested to Boris Johnson that a Western-led rival to China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) global infrastructure program could be necessary.

According to figures from the China Africa Research Initiative at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced and International Studies, Chinese lenders offered $153 billion to African state debtors between 2000 and 2019.

The BRI project has been accused of extensive corruption, environmental degradation, and use of forced labour.