|Theresa May. (File: AFP)|
British Prime Minister Theresa May on Tuesday pledged to prioritise investment in Africa as she started a visit to the continent to seek new trade deals during preparations to leave the European Union.
"By 2022, I want the UK to be the G7's number one investor in Africa, with Britain's private sector companies taking the lead," May told business leaders in Cape Town, South Africa.
The G7 groups major industrialised nations, but does not include China.
"As prime minister of a trading nation whose success depends on global markets, I want to see strong African economies that British companies can do business with," she said.
"I want to create a new partnership between the UK and our friends in Africa built around shared prosperity and shared security."
Her tour of South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya - May's first to the continent since becoming premier in 2016 - is seen as an effort to stamp her authority on her embattled premiership.
May is facing pressure at home from so-called Remainers sceptical of her ability to forge trade deals once Britain severs ties with the EU, as well as from Brexiteers fearful she will not deliver a clean break.
"As we prepare to leave the European Union, now is the time for the UK to deepen and strengthen its global partnerships," she said in a statement.