British Prime Minister Theresa May has announced her government’s plan to spend millions of pounds buying insurance premiums to cover natural disasters in Africa.
Speaking at the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, Friday, May said buying up private insurance policies is a departure from the traditional form of aid spending and may reduce the need for expensive direct humanitarian aid to Africa in the future, reports the Guardian.
The plan is to spend 30 million pounds buying premiums with British insurance companies over four years, so companies will be allowed to work directly with African governments to open up opportunities for profit.
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“We must not forget that progress in Africa benefits the U.K. at home. Our international aid work is helping to build Britain’s trading partners of the future, creating real alternatives to mass migration and enhancing our security,” May said.
She added that the initiative is a moral responsibility to meet the humanitarian needs of the poorest people on the planet and give taxpayers value for their money.
Making Africa Independent
Although a majority of leaders at the G20 summit agreed with May’s plan, some critics of Britain’s budget in the U.K. — who have been calling on the government to insure more British citizens facing floods and other disasters at home — are likely to oppose it.
Still, Oxfam Senior Policy Adviser Max Lawson welcomed the idea but warned that its success must be judged on the benefits it has for poor African countries and not the city of London.
“It is important to recognize that growing economies will not automatically provide people with enough food to eat or life-saving medicines, especially as Africa is home to some of the most unequal countries on Earth,” said Lawson.
“We urge the government to set out in practical terms how it will ensure those who most need our help [and how they] will reap the benefits of this initiative.”
May insists that the plan is part of a £200 million package aimed at boosting economic growth within African countries in order to make them less dependent on foreign aid.
May’s announcement followed the unveiling of an almost similar initiative by the German Chancellor Angel Merkel dubbed “Compact with Africa,” which aims to boost private investment in a select group of African countries with the hopes that they can act as the pioneers of a wider growth drive across the continent.
Merkel hopes to help African countries create jobs for their fast-growing youth population, which will in turn dissuade them from making the deadly mistake of attempting to cross the Mediterranean Sea in to Europe in search of greener pastures.
Studies show that millions in Africa continue to die of natural calamities, such as drought and floods, every year, with close to 3 million deaths of children linked to malnutrition.