Dubai baits African businesses

United Arab Emirates is looking to increase its influence in African markets where it expects to enjoy significant growth in trade — in line with aspirations of the UAE government — through its Dubai Chamber of Commerce, to strengthen joint cooperation with economies in Africa through improved trade dealings.

Trade ties between UAE and Africa have experienced substantial growth over the past decade, with Dubai non-oil trade with Africa hitting AED118 billion (US$32billion) in 2014 from AED84.4 billion (US$22.9billion) in 2011.

This has come at a time several African businesses have shown interest in Dubai’s economy with more than 12,000 African companies having so far registered with Dubai Chamber of Commerce and operating in Dubai.

As a result, the business community in the United Arab Emirates has planned to push through significant partnership projects and investments with the African continent, which is seen as one of the most promising markets for Emirati businesses.

Last month, about a dozen journalists from Ghana, Kenya, Uganda, Egypt, Morocco, Nigeria and South Africa visited the UAE on the invitation of the Dubai Chamber – to experience Dubai and meet the key industry figures linking the UAE and the African continent.

President of the Dubai Chamber of Commerce, Hamad Buamim, trumpeted the evolving trade between the Middle East country and Africa – saying the chamber will continue to strengthen trade ties with the African continent.

As a result, the Dubai Chamber of Commerce has scheduled November 17 and 18 for the 2015 Africa Global Business Forum in Dubai.

The forum, which has been themed ‘New drivers, new partners’, is under the tutelage of Vice President and Prime Minister of UAE, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum who also doubles as the ruler of Dubai.

The Forum is expected to bring together African businesses and their Emirati counterparts to deliberate on how to explore new opportunities and enhance trade between the UAE and Africa at a time Africa’s growth trajectory has experienced chequered fortunes.

The high-profile speakers and moderators that have been assembled for the Forum will be required to share their perspective on the potential of Africa to accelerate to double-digit growth, how to overcome the challenges of poverty, and provide assessments of whether Africa is actually ‘Africa still rising’ as has been proclaimed over the last decade.

Ghana’s Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration Minister, Hannah Tetteh, is also expected to discuss the vision of regional integration and look at what is now needed to turn that potential into reality.

Additionally, Ghana’s Trade Minister Ekwow Spio-Garbrah will also be part of the contingent to the Forum that will be asked to address the role of natural resources in Africa’s future economy, following the impact that the recent slump in commodity prices has had on African economies.

Commodity trade and Africa’s future have in recent times taken centre-stage in economic and trade debates, as the export of raw materials by many African economies has been singled out as one of the most important activities that has decreased Africa’s competitiveness.

Currently, in many African countries there are challenges that can make trade difficult: including poor infrastructure (transport, energy, etc), restrictive immigration policies, corruption, failure to formalise informal trade or capture informal trade figures, and unclear border procedures.

It is expected that the impending Africa Global Business Forum will chart a way to deal with Africa’s challenges and how Emirati businesses can play influential role in Africa’s growth prospects.