British Ambassadors brief MPs/Peers on COVID-19 and other developments in Africa
On 29 September BGIPU hosted a virtual parliamentary briefing with British Ambassadors to Rwanda, Burundi, Ethiopia, Djbouti, The Gambia and Mali. The event was chaired by BGIPU Chair and former FCO/DFID Minister for Africa, Harriett Baldwin MP and was attended by MPs and Peers from the BGIPU Executive Committee and a range of Select Committees and APPGs.
The event was very well-attended and included briefings from HM Ambassador to Ethiopia and non-resident Ambassador to Djibouti, HE Dr Alastair McPhail, CMG OBE; HM Ambassador to Mali, HE Guy Warrington; HM High Commissioner to Rwanda and Ambassador to Burundi, HE Jo Lomas; and HM High Commissioner to The Gambia, HE David Belgrove OBE.
The roundtable was on opportunity for Members to hear first-hand about the political, social and economic situation in their respective countries. It has been a turbulent year and all countries are facing unprecedented challenges, predominantly due to Covid-19 and the ensuing economic repercussions caused by lock-down and a reduction in tourism. The situation in Mali is particularly fast changing after a coup in August has resulted in military rule of the country for a transitory period before, hopefully, democratic elections within the next eighteen months.
Despite the existing challenges, it is evident that the relationship between the UK and African nations is one that is very valuable for both sides and there is a strong willingness for this to be enhanced in the future. There is hope that meaningful and mutually beneficial agreements can be made to increase trade between Africa and the UK.
This regular annual engagement between BGIPU members and UK Ambassadors was very productive, despite it being in a virtual format for the first time. Members benefitted greatly from the discussion and remain actively engaged in the full range and diversity of issues relating to Africa. They asked incisive questions, demonstrating their commitment to strengthen relations bilaterally at both government-to-government level and between national parliaments. BGIPU members and staff remain very grateful for the support of the FCDO in delivering our inter-parliamentary work with this event being a very concrete demonstration of the huge value for both institutions of this vital two-way partnership.