The Prime Minister has this week embarked on the three-day trade mission, which takes in South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya.
She has been joined by a group of delegates from UK companies representing sectors including technology, infrastructure and financial and professional services.
Over the course of the trip, they will meet with business leaders, policy-makers and entrepreneurs in order to build new investment, trading and export ties between the UK and emerging African economies.
Bombardier has previous experience of exporting to South Africa. Back in 2005, a consortium headed by Bombardier called Bombela, won a £500 million contract to supply Electrostar trains for the Gautrain rapid rail link.
The Gautrain link, which connects Johannesburg, Pretoria and Johannesburg International Airport, was created ahead of the 2010 World Cup, which took place in South Africa.
As part of the deal, the first 15 carriages were assembled at Bombardier’s Litchurch Lane.
The remaining 81 carriages were then sent to South Africa in “flat-pack” form and were assembled at Union Carriage and Wagon.
Today, Bombardier’s order book is made up of orders for new trains destined for the UK rail network.
But Richard Hunter, chairman and managing director at Bombardier Transportation UK, has previously spoken of his desire to land some overseas contracts for its Aventra train, which is designed, built and now manufactured in Derby.
He said: “Rail is the right economic and environmental transport solution for many countries in Africa.
“Bombardier has successfully exported trains from Derby to South Africa for the Gautrain project and then worked with the local supply chain to localise production in South Africa.
“This visit will be invaluable in maintaining relationships in South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria for upcoming rolling stock and signalling opportunities.”
JCB, which is headquartered in Rocester, is already a market leader in construction equipment in the UK, Europe, Russia and India. Like Bombardier, it will be using the trip to further its trade across Africa.
Africa is developing fast. More than half of the anticipated growth in global population between now and 2050 is expected to occur in Africa.
According to the International Monetary Fund, African economies are among the fastest growing in the world, making it a significant trading and investment partner for the UK.
More about jobs and employment
Mrs May said: “The Midlands Engine is at the heart of UK growth and we are supporting businesses of all sizes across the region to reach their potential.
“This visit will showcase the opportunities available for businesses in the Midlands and all around the UK to forge new trading and export relationships with our African partners.
“I’m pleased that Bombardier Transportation and JCB are joining me on this visit to Africa, where as standard bearers for British excellence on the world stage they will represent the unique expertise that UK firms have to offer.”
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