Past eventResearch Event

The UK and Africa in the International System: Priorities and Engagement Post-Brexit

20 April 2017 - 9:00am to 1:30pm

Chatham House, London


Speakers include:
Tobias Ellwood MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Minister for the Middle East and Africa
HE Lazarus Amayo, High Commissioner of the Republic of Kenya to the UK
Adam Afriyie MP, Prime Minister's Trade Envoy to Ghana
Dr Danielle Beswick, Senior Lecturer, International Development Department, University of Birmingham
Murray Grant, Managing Director, Intermediated Equity, CDC Group
Professor Owen Greene, Department of Peace Studies and International Development, University of Bradford
Laurie Lee, Chief Executive, CARE International
Dr Matt Lilley, CEO Africa, Prudential
Dr Carlos Lopes, Graduate School of Development Policy and Practice, University of Cape Town; Executive Secretary, United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (2012-16)
Dr Dirk Willem te Velde, Principal Research Fellow and Head, International Economic Development Group, Overseas Development Institute


Chairs include:
Yvonne Apea Mensah, Head of Africa, Political Division, Commonwealth Secretariat
Dr Alexander Beresford, Associate Professor in African Politics, School of Politics and International Studies, University of Leeds
Dr Alex Vines OBE, Research Director, Area Studies and International Law and Head, Africa Programme, Chatham House



The UK maintains strong and historic relationships with many African states, and the continent is an important part of UK economic, security, and development policy. However, as the UK’s wider foreign policy priorities and relationships shift following the Brexit vote, uncertainty surrounding the country’s relationships with African states has increased.

The coming change may generate opportunities for strengthened relations with partners on the continent, but a lack of certainty and predictability as to how to capitalize on this change may be a disincentive to trade and investment. Furthermore, as the UK re-evaluates its role and status in the world, it will adjust its ambitions and contributions towards global peace and security initiatives, and there has been a hardening of public attitudes towards foreign aid.

This event brings together academics, business representatives, diplomats and government representatives, relevant stakeholders from across Whitehall departments and other experts to discuss what the UK’s vision and strategy for its post-Brexit Africa engagement should be, and what further research is needed to support policy-makers and to generate a broader understanding of challenges ahead.

It is held in partnership with the University of Leeds and supported by the Economic and Social Research Council.

Read transcript of the keynote address by Tobias Elwood MP

Read transcript of Carlos Lopes speech

Meeting summary: Session two