The 4th Global Business Forum on Africa, organised by the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry, called for increasing investment flows between the UAE and Africa in several key sectors, including trade, financial services, logistics, and tourism.
A poll conducted during the two-day forum revealed that 48% of delegates considered trade to be the most promising sector for investment, followed by financial services (24%), and 14% for both the logistics and tourism sectors.
Participants labelled the above sectors as key areas where Dubai can offer its expertise and investment to boost African economies.
Opportunities and challenges
Delegates identified areas of challenges hindering investment in Africa, namely infrastructure, regulation, and innovation. They called for establishing investor-friendly policies and creating a business environment that can foster innovation and support entrepreneurship. Attendees highlighted the need for faster economic integration among African countries, which they say could potentially transform the continent into a global economic power.
Participants shared the view that trade and investment relations between the UAE and Africa must be expanded and strengthened in order for both business communities to benefit from promising investment opportunities that are opening up on the continent.
In addition, they underlined Dubai’s role as a global gateway to Africa, paving the way for businesses and investors from all around the world to enter African markets. They also lauded the Global Business Forum on Africa 2017’s contribution to bilateral relations as the event provides an ideal platform for government and business leaders in Africa and the Middle East to discuss cooperation and concrete business prospects.
Under the patronage of H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE, and Ruler of Dubai, the 2017 edition of the Forum was held under the theme “Next Generation Africa”. A total of 1,500 delegates attended the high-level forum, while 375 bilateral business meetings were conducted on the sidelines of the event.
Three agreements were signed between the UAE and African entities. The UAE’s Ministry of Finance inked two agreements with Rwanda: one to avoid double taxation on income, and another to protect and encourage investment between the two countries. Meanwhile, the third agreement was reached which aimed to promote and protect mutual investments between the UAE and Uganda.
“The fourth Global Business Forum on Africa boasted an exceptionally high-profile participation, including African heads of state, ministers and influential decision-makers, which added significance to the forum as a premier platform focusing on the economic outlook for African markets,” said H.E. Hamad Buamim, President and CEO of Dubai Chamber.
H.E. Buamim noted that the forum strengthened Dubai’s position as a global gateway to the African continent, while it also showcased the various advantages that the emirate can offer African companies as a preferred trade and investment hub.
He unveiled Dubai Chamber’s plans to open two additional representative offices in Africa over the next two years, bringing its total number of African offices to six. In addition, H.E. Buamim revealed that the Chamber has invested AED 100 million to raise awareness of opportunities and economic potential in Africa, adding that it will aim to double this investment in the coming years.
Rise of Africa’s entrepreneurs
Several sessions at the forum underlined the crucial role of entrepreneurs in driving Africa’s next phase of economic growth. Speakers and panellists called for new tools and policies to help entrepreneurs thrive and grow. Attendees identified legislation as another key area where efforts can be enhanced to better support startups and business growth.
Participants urged governments to expedite advanced infrastructure projects to cater to current and future economic activity on the continent. They encouraged innovation and creativity in the economic and investment sector as a means to accelerate current economic growth, and ensure long-term success for entrepreneurs.
The 4th Global Business Forum on Africa took place on November 1st and 2nd, 2017 at Dubai’s Madinat Jumeirah. The forum was held as part of Dubai Chamber’s Global Business Forum series, which focuses on Africa, the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and Latin America.