It was excruciating, cringe-worthy and mildly amusing watching Theresa May busting her awkward moves at the reception held for her in Cape Town on Monday. During the welcoming festivities, the Prime Minister found herself surrounded by dancing children and adults alike, all of whom appeared to move with buckets of rhythm, whilst she sadly seemed to lack the same timing and coordination. However, as I watched the scenes unfold on the news and partially covered my eyes at the same time, my mind began to wander. What would I have done in such a situation? I’m pretty sure I couldn’t have done much better! Would I have resisted the urge to pull out my best Saturday night moves? What would Cameron have done? Or Blair? I’m sure Obama would have carried it off but Trump? Let’s not go there. Gordon Brown? That would have been a disaster. I’m pretty certain Mrs Thatcher would have got through it without resorting to any Peter Crouch style, semi-robotic, long-since tested dance repertoire.
Bless her though, Teresa May had a go. I actually admire her for it. She was making an effort to connect with her hosts, to share in their joy of the moment. If she does end up with spare time on her hands in the next couple of years on the back of manoeuvres in the Conservative Party, I doubt the producers of Strictly will be snapping her up as quickly as they did her old adversary Mr Balls.
So, the PM is on tour in South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya visiting a contingent of ministers and business people, half of which are pleasingly representing SMEs. Mrs May is there to forge a greater partnership between the UK and Africa at a time when the UK needs all the friends it can get with a looming, uncertain Brexit ahead.
I’ve written previously ‘In search of common wealth’ about the UK’s efforts to re-invigorate old friendships around the world having overly-focused on its European alliance for the past 70 odd years. Africa undoubtedly offers huge opportunities and an equal scale of challenges for British businesses in terms of trade.
At Capital International we’ve been doing business in Africa for many years and in the past 4 years we’ve had an office in Cape Town. The growth that we’ve seen from the continent has played a very significant part in the growth that we’ve seen across the Group. This year we’ve had to take on more office space to accommodate our increasing headcount which is approaching 25 in Cape Town as well as the 90 odd people in our Isle of Man HQ.
Whilst the PM aims to strengthen the links with the UK, the Isle of Man has enjoyed excellent relationships in Africa for decades. From the 1870s, many Manx miners set sail for South Africa to work in the diamond industry and by 1930 one of them, Dan Corlett, had created a huge construction company and was elected Mayor of Johannesburg. Today, the island has significant connections with South Africa with hundreds of South Africans employed on the island in growth sectors like Financial Services, IT, e-commerce and e-gaming. Not only does this influx of talent strengthen our business community, but it has also made a great difference to the quality of our local rugby teams!
At Capital International, with people on the ground in Africa and in the Isle of Man and with great experience in supporting the asset management, IFA, fiduciary, insurance and e-gaming sectors, we’re really well placed to work with businesses that have an interest in Africa. We must therefore forgive Theresa May for her limited rhythm and applaud the UK and Isle of Man’s ongoing efforts to promote opportunity and greater links between our nations.
Disclaimer: The views thoughts and opinions expressed within this article are those of the author, and not those of any company within the Capital International Group (CIG) and as such are neither given nor endorsed by CIG. Information in this article does not constitute investment advice or an offer or an invitation by or on behalf of any company within the Capital International Group of companies to buy or sell any product or security.