Posted on August 8, 2019
Britain is still the military partner of choice for African nations despite the presence of other big players on the continent.
While China is one of the biggest contributors of cash and hardware to African nations, the Commander of the British Peace Support Team (Africa) (BPST(A)) said skills and shared history are still valued.
“Whilst clearly we are in competition with China, for many African nations we are still the partner of choice,” said Colonel Geoffrey Minton. “If they are not after the shiny drones and the big bombs, they are after people who can improve their professional standards.” BPST(A) oversees 93 peacekeeping and security courses across Eastern and Southern Africa.
With an annual budget of around £13m, it is estimated they reach around 10,000 personnel and civilians every year.
Maritime Adviser Commander Karen Cahill said the British presence is important for future engagement: “The UK considers Africa to be one of the big players moving forwards so this lends itself to UK plc and being able to work more closely with our African partners.”
British personnel are currently in Uganda training the Ugandan People’s Defence Force ahead of their upcoming deployment to Somalia.
With American, French and Dutch teams also working in the country, the UK Defence Attaché to Uganda, Lieutenant Colonel Matt Edwards, said Britain tries not to overmatch.
“We talk and make sure we are delivering what is required, not overtaking the host nations with too much activity,” he said.
Of the countries currently skill-sharing in Africa, Britain is the only nation the UN deems to be delivering training “fit for purpose”.