Some 15 African heads of state and governments participated, including presidents Abdel Fatah al-Sisi of Egypt, Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya, Nana Akufo-Addo of Ghana and Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria, along with dozens of leaders of business and international institutions.
South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa withdrew his participation a few days to the summit due to domestic commitments.
At the opening, the British Prime Minister touted Africa’s potential, saying that more than half the world's 15 fastest-growing economies were in Africa and that “two-thirds of African economies are expanding faster than the global average.”
While the summit also covered the often-stated need to transform this potential into real socio-economic development, the UK’s strategic intent was clear to all, which is to fill the gap - or the loss - that may result from it leaving the European Union at the end of January.
The African Development Bank (AfDB) President Akinwumi Adesina said, to great applause, that the UK need not “get scared of Brexit”. “You can exit and look the other way and Africa will be there,” said Mr. Adesina.
The UK hopes to reverse its dwindling trade with Africa, which fell from 4.2% of its total trade in 2012 to just 2% or $46 billion in 2018. To put that in perspective, China’s 2018 trade with Africa was $204 billion, according to the country’s Ministry of Commerce.