Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May with President Cyril Ramaphosa at 10 Downing Street in London, prior to bilateral talks on the sidelines of the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting, on April 17, 2018.
Image: Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP

British Prime Minister Theresa May is expected to arrive in Cape Town on Tuesday to kick off a three-day trip to sub-Saharan Africa.

May will be accompanied by a trade delegation to meet the presidents of South Africa‚ Nigeria and Kenya in a bid to boost Britian’s post-Brexit export prospects‚ the Guardian  reported on Sunday.

Speaking ahead of her flight to South Africa‚ May said: “Africa stands right on the cusp of playing a transformative role in the global economy.

“As we prepare to leave the European Union‚ now is the time for the UK to deepen and strengthen its global partnerships.”

May will hold a bilateral meeting with President Cyril Ramaphosa on Tuesday and‚ weather permitting‚ visit Robben Island in Cape Town.

The presidency said in a statement on Monday that May’s working visit followed bilateral meetings between the British Prime Minister and Ramaphosa during the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in London in April and the G7 in Canada in June. The two leaders discussed potential partnerships between the United Kingdom and South Africa and efforts to strengthen bilateral trade and investment relations.

The last official visit to South Africa by a sitting UK Prime Minister was in 2011.

The presidency said the visit to South Africa would serve to further cement economic relations built up over several decades.

The UK was South Africa’s 6th largest global trading partner in 2017‚ with total trade at R79.5 billion. The UK also remains the key source of long-haul tourism to South Africa‚ with nearly 448‚000 visitors in 2017.

May will present Ramaphosa during her visit with the SS Mendi Bell‚ which was found in the English Channel a year ago. In 1917‚ the SS Mendi and a large cargo steamship‚ Darro‚ collided in the English Channel‚ south of the Isle of Wight. The Mendi sank‚ killing 646 people‚ most of whom were black South African troops.

The Mendi was chartered by the British government as a troop carrier to serve in World War 1‚ carrying 823 members of South Africa’s Fifth Battalion. They had completed 34 days of the voyage from Cape Town to England‚ and were on their way to France to the war when tragedy struck in the English Channel.