The UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson is to visit The Gambia marking the first recorded visit to the West African nation by a foreign secretary. Johnson will also travel to Ghana as part of his two-day official trip in West Africa this week.

The visit is coming weeks after Gambian President Adama Barrow exclusively told IBTimes UK he wanted to strengthen relations between Gambia and the UK by, among other things, rejoining the Commonwealth and promoting foreign investments.

"I'm delighted to be the first foreign secretary to visit Gambia this week and delighted to have a chance to meet the newly elected President Barrow and President Akufo-Addo of Ghana. Their elections highlight the continuing strengthening of democracy in West Africa," Johnson said ahead of the trip.

"I am also very pleased that Gambia wants to rejoin the Commonwealth and we will ensure this happens in the coming months. The strength of our partnerships show that global Britain is growing in influence and activity around the world."

Relations between Gambia and the UK had strained under the leadership of previous leader Yahya Jammeh, who left the Commonwealth deeming it a "neo-colonial institution".

Barrow, who defeated Jammeh in presidential elections held in December 2016, took the helm of the nation after weeks of political crisis with Jammeh refusing to relinquish power.

The strongman eventually went into exile in Equatorial Guinea following pressure from world leaders and a military intervention.

Barrow – a former businessman who lived in London for three years – is determined to bring Gambia's development to the level its citizens expect him to. He also vowed he would build a new country though democratic principles.

Earlier this month, the European Union pledged €225m ($240m; £191m) in aid to The Gambia as part of its effort to become a "privileged partner of The New Gambia".

The EU had frozen its aids after Jammeh – accused of human rights abuses outlawed homosexuality in 2014.