London joins Africa on its great adventure.

Author:Estlin, Peter
Position:GUEST COMMENTARY
 
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The City of London (right) is the world's greatest financial centre, with over $8tn in assets. More

African companies are listed on the London Stock Exchange than anywhere else in the world and it plays a crucial role in helping Africa raise much-needed capital for its urgent development requirements. As the UK heads towards Brexit, the City is looking to create deeper relations with Africa.

The embrace of free trade and free markets across the continent have acted as the greatest agent of human progress the world has ever seen. Market economies across Africa have resulted in increased life expectancy, the shrinking of absolute poverty and hugely improved access to education.

There is still more to do of course. Africa's population is set to double by 2050 and as many as 18m extra jobs a year will need to be created to meet that demand. But with its collective GDP set to skyrocket beyond $3tn within the next decade, the Fourth Industrial Revolution gives Africa the opportunity to propel itself towards truly inclusive and sustainable prosperity.

My predecessor as Lord Mayor, Charles Bowman, was present when the UK Prime Minister, Theresa May in her speech in Cape Town in August stated that the City of London--as the world's leading financial centre, with more than 8tn [pounds terling] of assets under management--is an unrivalled future investment partner of choice as Africa looks to realise its full potential. If Africa is to meet the challenge while also achieving the UN's Sustainable Development Goals, it will need access to capital and to create investable investment assets. London's scale and innovation means it is uniquely placed to deliver this growing demand.

As the location for 11% of the world's fintech industry, the UK is helping to bring basic financial services to hundreds of millions of unbanked people across Africa, while UK fintech firms, such as Azimo and WorldRemit are making it cheaper than ever before to send remittances back home, fuelling local economies.

I am working closely with the UK government to share UK expertise and grow Africa's fintech industry, identifying opportunities for further private investment and sharing business models.

New raft of opportunities

That's not all. For instance, more than 110 African companies are listed on the London Stock Exchange --more than anywhere else in the world--and in November it saw the listing of the first local currency corporate bond from Ghana and West Africa, worth GHS45m...

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