Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s representative offices in Africa recently organised a webinar in cooperation with Oxford Business Group and the Pan African Chamber of Commerce and Industry, which covered some of the key benefits of doing business in Africa.
The virtual event, attended by 163 participants from the UAE and Africa, aimed to familiarise UAE companies with the competitive advantages offered by several promising African markets, the evolving business climate on the continent, as well as new investment opportunities and existing challenges to foreign investors.
Addressing participants, Omar Khan, Director of International Offices at Dubai Chamber, highlighted the importance of Africa as a preferred market for Dubai, and pointed out that many UAE-based companies have established their presence on the continent.
Evidence of the expanding economic links between Dubai and Africa can be found in the reflected in recent trade trends, he noted. In H1 2020, Dubai’s non-oil trade with Africa reached $22.2 billion an overall 1.1% y-o-y growth rate, while Dubai accounted on average for 85% of UAE total non-oil trade with Africa, he revealed. He added that Dubai’s trade with Africa in the first half of 2020 returned to pre-COVID-19 levels, while Dubai Chamber members saw 6.5% growth in exports and re-exports of to the continent in February 2021.
Khan emphasised the commitment of Dubai Chamber, through its African offices, to promote investment opportunities in African markets and provide assistance to UAE business leaders and investors that are keen to do business there. He added that Dubai Chamber’s offices in Ethiopia, Ghana, Mozambique and Kenya play an active role in identifying business opportunities in those markets that offer the most potential for Chamber members and the business community in Dubai.
A poll conducted during the webinar found that 55% of participants saw lack of reliable data on market opportunities in Africa as a key obstacle to doing business on the continent, followed by 50% who said there is not enough information about potential business partners. Around 43% identified communication with local suppliers and distributors as areas of challenge, while 38% cited logistical infrastructure as a barrier.
Oxford Business Group gave an introductory presentation on the economic and investment landscape in sub-Saharan Africa, economic indicators, and investment opportunities in promising sectors including infrastructure, renewable energy, information technology and food industries.
For his part, Kebour Ghenna – Executive Director, Pan African Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) will pave way to accelerate the establishment of a continental customs union. He noted that infrastructure offers enormous potential for investment considering the sector is under developed across Africa, adding that the continent currently has high demand for electronics, machinery, textiles and processed food products, while others priority sectors for foreign investors include
agriculture, renewable energy.
A presentation from Dubai Chamber revealed tobacco, mineral fuels, precious stones, plastics, sugar and aluminum as Dubai’s top exports to Africa, while Somalia was identified as the top export market, followed by Egypt and Kenya. Machinery, electronics, transport equipment and mineral products accounted for about 75% of Dubai re-export products to Africa
Emerging recovery in the global economy is expected to benefit primarily Dubai’s main trading partners in Africa, namely Egypt, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Angola and South Africa, which account for 65% of the entire value of Africa-bound shipments, according to the presentation.
Bernardo Bruzzone, Regional Editor – Africa, Oxford Business Group, shared valuable insights on Africa’s changing business landscape, recent economic developments, expected impact of AfCFTA on intra-regional trade and foreign investment flows into the continent and opportunities created by the Covid-led rapid digital transformation, as well as progress in developing South Africa, Kenya, Namibia and Ghana as green economies.
In addition, participants were invited to attend the Global Business Forum Africa, which descends on Dubai later this year during Expo 2020 Dubai. The high-level forum aims to explore new avenues of UAE-Africa economic cooperation and position Dubai as a global gateway for African companies.