UKIP East Midlands MEP Margot Parker has said the focus over the next few months should be on re-building the country’s global brand. She said the UK should not only look at the financial windfall Brexit will bring the country in the coming decades – it should also look at the developing world and how our interactions with them could change many countries for the better.
Margot said: “Trade not aid” has been a UKIP mantra for almost as long as the party has been looking at more than simply leaving the European Union.
“Based on solid, traditional free-market principles the idea is if we remove trade barriers to products from the developing world it would empower economic development and stimulate self-sufficiency, removing reliance on so-called ‘structural aid’.”
She said an example is the African situation, saying: “Africa is addicted to aid. For the past 60 years it has been fed aid. Like any addict it needs and depends on its regular fix, finding it hard, if not impossible, to contemplate existence in an aid-less world. In Africa, the West has found its perfect client to deal to.”
“I worry that too many African countries have already hit rock-bottom -- ungoverned, poverty-stricken, and lagging further and further behind the rest of the world each day - there is nowhere further to go down."
Other voices, such as Professor Patrick (PLO) Lumumba, the Director of the Kenyan School of Laws and previously Director of the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission, see African solutions to African problems as the key to the continent’s future. He has expressed his viewpoints powerfully on a number of occasions, an example of which can be heard here.
African countries need to be self-sufficient, to have the self-respect and confidence to create prosperity and long term economic and social security. By spending our aid money more wisely and effectively, the UK can do far more to help African countries accomplish this for themselves and free them from dependency on other countries for expertise and funds.
Many voices in both Africa and donor nations have made compelling arguments at the immorality and inefficacy of structural aid, which is why in 2015 the UKIP manifesto pledged to cut all structural aid, amounting to approximately £9 billion, or 75 per cent of our aid budget. Purely humanitarian aid, such as medical interventions and disaster relief, would of course be maintained as they have a real and positive impact on a number of levels.
She said another focus should be on the education and training of African women. In the modern African economic model, many women are left in the rural areas while men go to the cities to work. These women raise the children, engage in subsistence level farming and otherwise hold the “home front” together. Urban women have more varied roles, but still often languish behind men in terms of skills, training and opportunity.
She said: “Both demographics would benefit from this realignment of aid focus. Rural women, trained and equipped, could move beyond subsistence level agriculture and into small-scale commercial farming, possibly through cooperatives.
“One of the biggest trading opportunities for African countries post-Brexit is in commercial agricultural goods. At the moment, in an effort to protect continental European farmers, the EU imposes harsh quotas and a punitive 18% import tariff on agricultural products from non-EU countries. This keeps food prices in EU member-states higher than they should be as well as stifling the prosperity of agriculture-based African economies.
“Urban women, with the right training and support, are encouraged to open micro-businesses to better their personal circumstances as well as provide opportunities for their children. This model is very successful in the UK, with more than a million micro and small businesses lead by women, contributing £75 billion to the economic output of this country.
“This improvement in the skills and prospects of African women would provide an overall economic stimulus to their countries, as well as advancing gender equality. Simply by diverting a portion currently spent on structural aid, multi-generational improvements are possible.
“There is of course a need for wider skills improvements beyond the empowerment of African women – the position of many young African men also needs to be addressed. We also have an opportunity to improve the lot of British young people at the same time.
“We should require any UK company who wins a tender for a project financed by structural aid to provide a large number of proper apprenticeships and training positions, split equally between UK nationals and citizens of the country in which the project is taking place. This would improve the work-skills base in both countries to their mutual long-term benefit, as well as encouraging self-sufficiency in the recipient nation.”