Your Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen.
On behalf of Her Majesty The Queen, Catherine and I are delighted to welcome you to Buckingham Palace for this reception to mark the UK-Africa Investment Summit.
It is a tremendous pleasure to see so many Heads of State, Ministers, business leaders and friends from both Africa and the UK here tonight.
My grandmother is sorry not to be here this evening, but she has asked me to pass on her warmest wishes to you all.
The African continent holds a very special place in my heart.
It is the place my father took my brother and me shortly after our mother died.
And when deciding where best to propose to Catherine, I could think of no more fitting place than Kenya to get down on one knee.
Throughout my life, I have been lucky enough to spend time in many other parts of Africa. I’m also honoured to be the Patron of the Royal African Society.
And as Catherine and I have said to several of you here tonight, we hope to have the chance to visit many more countries in the future and share our mutual love of your continent with our children.
No matter the country I have visited – whether I have met young students, park rangers, entrepreneurs, or Presidents – I have always been struck by the friendliness and warmth of the African people.
And I’ve been left in no doubt about the optimism and ambition that people in Africa have for their future.
The continent is home to eight of the world’s fastest growing economies.
Its population is set to rise to over two billion people by 2050.
And twenty million jobs must be created each year across Africa to meet the demands of young people entering the labour market.
Across the continent there is a palpable urgency and determination to grow.
Harnessing that energy, and ensuring that it leads to environmentally and socially sustainable growth and jobs, is why you have all gathered here in London for the Summit today.
It has been encouraging to hear about the productive, long term partnerships that have been developed at today’s Summit, as well as the increasing investment from UK businesses into Africa.
These investment partnerships will help to create quality jobs for young people across African countries and here in the UK.
And most importantly, your collective effort is helping to generate the private investment needed to meet the UN’s Global Goals. These goals will ensure that we see a safer, wealthier, better educated, healthier, more equal and greener world by 2030.
I know that today you have mainly been discussing financial investment. But let me end by saying that I hope we can also boost investment into Africa’s natural environment.
African countries have some of the most abundant, valuable ecosystems in the world, relied on by millions of people for their livelihoods. It is always deeply worrying to hear when those livelihoods are threatened, for example by the illegal wildlife trade, extreme weather events, or by the current devastating locust plague in East Africa.
At the start of this new decade, and as we lift our ambition towards the climate change conference in Glasgow later this year, we must all work together to invest in the natural world – our most precious asset.
And we must ensure that the growth ahead is used to protect and repair the delicate balance of nature.
People quite rightly expect the coming decades to bring rising living standards.
It is in the interest of the entire planet that Africa shows us all how to deliver growth and jobs, while also leading the world in the fight against climate change.
I’m confident that the partnerships you have agreed today can be at the heart of this vital mission.
Once again, Catherine and I, The Princess Royal and The Earl and Countess of Wessex, have been delighted to welcome you to Buckingham Palace tonight.
We hope you have an enjoyable evening.