Dubai: Over the past decade, Dubai’s non-oil trade with Africa increased by 700 per cent from Dh10.6 billion in 2002 to Dh84.8 billion by 2011, Hamad Buamim, Director General, Dubai Chamber of Commerce & Industry, said during Africa Global Business Forum 2013
“Over the next few years Dubai Chamber will target Africa to encourage more trade and investment flows with Dubai by opening a series of overseas offices in key locations across the continent. Our first, which is in the final stages of preparation, will open in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and will be followed by more over the next three to five years
“During the forum, five key sectors will be identified which present significant opportunities for investment. These are trade, logistics, tourism, agribusiness and finance. Taking each sector in turn, trade offers potential for Dubai businesses as the emirate is already the region’s main trade and transhipment hub, a position which can be expanded.
“Opportunities for investment in logistics come in line with potential trade growth as long distances and storage difficulties mean that great opportunities exist for warehousing and distribution services across Africa. Meanwhile, tourism is a pillar of Dubai’s economy and is continuing to grow as the emirate becomes a hub for international passenger flows from Asia (mainly China and India) and Europe into Africa. Emirates airline flies to 23 different Africa destinations and is a key element in increasing this connectivity.
“Agriculture is a major employer and GDP earner for most African countries and it has the potential to drive the continent’s development. The UAE imports more than 80 per cent of food, spending Dh25.5 billion on food imports in 2010, plus it is the re-export hub for GCC food imports. As such there is tremendous scope to invest in this sector.
Moreover, he remarked that finance is an under resourced sector in Africa generally. “Obviously, some countries fare better than others, but on the whole opportunities exist for Dubai to export its expertise in this sector and in Islamic finance in particular.”
“Dubai’s location is a gateway into and out of the African continent. Historically, Dubai has always been a major transit point for goods and trade flows from Africa, and this is a role that we are seeking to build on over the coming years,” Buamim said.
Global firms looking to do business in Africa can use Dubai as a stable and secure base and likewise, African firms can use the emirate to reach other global destinations, he added.
The city’s extensive infrastructure and modern banking, financial and legal systems, offer good protection to investors and facilitate the ease of doing business. There are a number of successful companies already doing this including Nestle, Louis Dreyfus, one of the world’s largest commodity traders, and MiDCOM Group, the largest Nokia distributor in Africa and Middle East (MEA) region, who all base their Africa office in Dubai.