Fringe meeting hosted at party conference

Categories: NewsPublished On: 2nd May, 2023337 words1.7 min read

Fringe meeting hosted at party conference

Categories: NewsPublished On: 2nd May, 202315.3 min read

What is the future of Wales-led international development? That was the question posed at a fringe event hosted by Hub Cymru Africa at the Welsh Conservatives Conference at ICC Wales, Newport, on 29th May 2023. The panel consisted of Claire O’Shea, Head of Partnership at Hub Cymru Africa, and Joel James MS, Welsh Conservatives Shadow Minister for Social Partnership.

Claire O’Shea first gave context around the Wales and Africa programme and its relationship with Fair Trade Wales, with most projects linking Wales with Uganda and Lesotho. She spoke about the research commissioned by Hub Cymru Africa into attitudes towards global solidarity across the UK. The survey found that Welsh people are 11% more likely to engage with global poverty than the British average, and 3% more likely to boycott goods that are not fair trade. The research also found Welsh people are more likely to engage with news on global poverty and are most likely to respond to an urgent appeal, though are least likely to attend a protest relating to global poverty.

Joel James MS spoke of his visit to Mbale, Uganda to see how the Wales and Africa programme works in practice and how Welsh taxpayers’ money is being spent despite international development not being devolved. He spoke of tree planting initiatives, coffee growing and new stove systems being developed for domestic use. The Conservative member also saw where Jenipher’s Coffi – a Welsh-Ugandan co-operative – was roasted and packaged.

Joel spoke of the number of Chinese flags on display in Uganda, with China being responsible for a large amount of the country’s infrastructure. Claire recognised the challenges Russian and Chinese links poses for British soft power in Africa, particularly when the government is in a position to restore the budget for overseas aid. Joel cast concern over the Ugandan government’s anti-gay laws, stating the UK should use its international aid lever to publicly criticise this. He said he was very supportive of the Wales and Africa programme, and “strongly endorsed” the government’s nation of sanctuary approach.