The United Kingdom Department for International Trade says new trade agreements will come into force in January for the UK with 14 African partners with the prospect of more countries to follow.

This is according to a statement issued by the department’s Nigerian office on Saturday.

It added that 35 African partners will also receive preferential access to the UK through its trade presence scheme.

It also announced that the department would host a one-day virtual Africa Investment Conference on January 20, 2021.

The conference is expected to bring together UK and African businesses to explore opportunities for partnership and investment.

The conference comes one year after the UK-Africa Investment Summit hosted in London by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, where 27 trade and investment deals worth 6.5 billion pounds and commitments worth 8.9 billion pounds were announced.

According to the statement, businesses will be able to discuss emerging and relevant themes around doing business in Africa.

They will also connect to investment opportunities across the African continent, all in the context of a challenging global economic outlook.

The development of the UK’s new trade arrangements alongside Africa’s own Continental Free Trade Agreement can unleash new opportunities for African and UK businesses, it said.

UK Minister for Investment, Gerry Grimstone, said in spite of the current global economic context, the UK’s ambition to be Africa’s investment partner of choice had never been stronger.

”Growing investment relationships will be central in helping economies recover and build back better from the disruption caused by Coronavirus.

“Africa’s economic potential and investment opportunities are huge, and our partnership will help ensure UK and African businesses are able to capitalise on trade and investment opportunities, now and in the future.”

He said that the conference would be a platform for attendees to hear directly from UK companies about the opportunities and challenges of investing in and doing business across Africa.

Firms will also learn more about the UK’s new trade arrangements with Africa and support offered by the UK government to businesses and investors.

“The event will also explore how inclusive, sustainable and resilient investment can serve to help countries across the continent transition to a cleaner, greener economy and support recovery from the impact of coronavirus.”

Driven by the insights of the recently established Africa Investors Group, the conference will focus around four key sectors of activity.

They are sustainable infrastructure, renewable energy, financial and professional services and agriculture and agri-tech.

Minister for Africa, James Duddridge, said that the UK was working with countries across Africa to build strong partnerships that secure investment and deliver more of the exports, jobs and economic growth that benefit both African and British businesses.

“Over 6.5 billion pounds worth of deals were signed at the UK-Africa Investment Summit 2020, which showcased the UK’s offer to African nations, as a global financial gateway and home to the world’s major investors, regulators and innovators.

January’s event will once again bring together British and African businesses and entrepreneurs, to support more prosperous African countries.”

Her Majesty’s Trade Commissioner for Africa, Emma Wade-Smith, said the conference would build on the achievements of 2020’s landmark UK-Africa Investment Summit.

According to her, connecting British businesses to the wealth of opportunities that exists across African markets and supporting them in the realisation of their commercial projects is at the heart of the department’s work.

“With the global disruption to markets caused by COVID-19, investment will be vital to accelerate the UK and Africa’s economic recovery.

“I am proud that the investment partnerships that exist between Africa and the UK continue to sustain jobs and improve lives.”

Co-Chair of Africa Investor’s Group, Andrew Skipper, said it was expected that the conference would demonstrate what had been achieved and establish a platform for what could be done working in collaboration in the future.

“A year on from the UK-Africa Investment Summit, and with the UK set on a new course, it is critical that we continue to demonstrate the UK government’s commitment to working with the private sector to promote, support and deliver trade in key sectors of British excellence, across UK and Africa,” Skipper said.