When the world meets at Dubai Expo 2020  

Ghana is participating in the event and has been allocated a 200-metre-square pavilion for the Expo, under the theme ‘Ghana ready for business’ writes WILLIAM SELASSY ADJADOGO

Over 25 million people from all walks of life are expected to visit Expo 2020 Dubai – an international mega-event that will be hosted in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE). It aims to entertain and educate a global audience, celebrate innovation, promote progress and foster cooperation.

It is the first World Expo to be held in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia (MEASA) region, and will be the largest event ever held in the Arab world – between October 20, 2020 and April 2021 under the theme ‘Connecting Minds, Creating the Future’.

Our world has never been more connected, and the opportunities for shared thinking, collective development and beneficial trade and commerce have never been greater.

The reason behind the choice of this theme is our belief that innovation and progress are the result of people from different fields and backgrounds, who would not normally collaborate, coming together in new and unique ways to share ideas, said Sumathi Ramanathan Director – Destination Marketing, when she briefed a group of Africa journalists recently in Dubai on preparations toward a successful Expo. It was organised by the Dubai Chamber of Commerce.

Construction works has hit top gear to ensure the venue is ready for the global event that promises to be exciting and well attended.

The nations and organisations that will take part in the Expo, and the millions who visit, will explore the power of connections across the key sub-themes of Opportunity, Mobility and Sustainability – areas Dubai sees as fundamental in shaping the future world.

  • Opportunity: Unlocking the potential for individuals and communities to shape the future
  • Mobility: Creating smarter and more productive movement of people, goods and ideas, both physically and virtually
  • Sustainability: Respecting and living in balance with the world we inhabit to ensure a sustainable future for all

Expo 2020 Dubai is preparing to put on the World’s Greatest Show of human brilliance and achievement. It will be a moment in time to be part of a never-experienced event, with access to the greatest inventions and millions of chances to make a lasting change.

EY analysis shows how Expo 2020 is a long-term investment for the UAE, how it is expected to create jobs directly and indirectly, and how it is expected to have a significant positive impact on the UAE’s economy now, during, and after the event. Expo 2020 is expected to make a significant contribution to the UAE economy.

The report states that Expo 2020 is expected to contribute AED122.6 billion to the UAE’s economy from 2013–31. Further, it also expected to support up to 905,200 job-years during the same time-frame

Africa’s participation

For the first time in World Expo history, Dubai Expo 2020 will move away from the traditional geographical clusters and band together countries facing similar challenges within the three sub-themes of the event. The majority of countries in Africa have publicly announced their participation in Expo 2020 Dubai, and in a ‘never happen in the World Expo history’, each participating country – regardless of size, population, wealth or perceived influence – will have its own pavilion at Expo 2020. Those who cannot build one will be supported.

From discovering what the future holds for the world’s youngest country, South Sudan, and tasting Ethiopia’s next big super-grain, to investing in Kenya’s croton nut energy industry, learning about Nigeria’s Economic Recovery Growth Plan 2017-2020, and preserving the continent’s intangible cultural heritage, there will be no barriers to connecting minds at Expo 2020 Dubai. Ghana is participating in the event and has been allocated a 200 square-metre pavilion for the Expo, under the theme ‘Ghana ready for business’.

Africa and the UAE have enjoyed a long friendship, steeped in a shared culture and trade ties which date back centuries and still define the mutually respectful relationship.

At the first World Expo to be held in the region, African countries and everything they have to offer will be accessible to the whole world in new and unexpected ways.

 The sub-themes form part of Expo 2020’s commitment to advancing the 2020 Global Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Expo 2020 will be an invaluable platform for all African nations to strengthen not only their relationship with the UAE but also the rest of the world, with 198 countries confirmed to participate as well as companies, non-governmental organisations, businesses and educational institutions.

Expo 2020 will be a strong business and investment opportunity for African companies, with numerous investment forums, pitching sessions, inspirational talks and business events offering companies a chance to develop relationships with nations, multinational organisations, start-ups and stakeholders. It is an opportunity to learn from the best business practices from around the world.  It will be a festival of human ingenuity that gives a glimpse into the future.

African companies can benefit from Expo 2020 Dubai even before the doors open. Expo’s Online Market Place is a high-powered eProcurement tool to help suppliers and buyers from around the world network, collaborate, conduct business and compete for Expo 2020 contracts. By participating, African businesses have a chance to join a community of Expo’s buyer and supplier network.

Africa’s non-oil trade with Dubai has been growing steadily over the last decade, accounting for 10.5 percent of the emirate’s total non-oil foreign trade in 2018. Expo 2020 will be an opportunity to continue growing this relationship, while opening up new markets in other parts of the world.

According to UAE Federal Customs Authority data for the first half of 2018, non-oil foreign trade volume with the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region amounted to AED138.6billion; trade with East and Southern Africa totalled AED28.9billion; and trade with West and Central Africa AED27.8billion

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US$100m Expo live created to fund innovation

To ensure that next year’s Expo leeaves a lasting memory on mankind, Expo Live – an innovation and partnership programme – has been launched by Expo 2020 Dubai to fund, accelerate, and promote creative solutions that improve lives while preserving the planet.

The Expo 2020 global innovation and partnership programme, Expo Live, has an allocated US$100million to back projects with creative solutions to pressing challenges, helping to improve people’s lives or preserve the planet – or both. This comprises the Innovation Impact Grant Programme and University Innovation Programme.

Expo Live is part of thought-through strategy to ensure Expo 2020 leaves a lasting legacy, not only in the UAE but globally – hence, during the first three rounds, Expo Live funded 12 start-ups from Africa.

4 African projects improving lives can build on success

  • Projects from Ghana, Kenya, South Africa and Tanzania recognised
  • Initiatives show that innovation can come from anywhere to everyone
  • Innovators may get chance to showcase solutions at Expo 2020 Dubai

Four African initiatives empowering women and smallholder farmers receive grants from global social impact programme Expo Live.

Innovators from Ghana, Kenya, South Africa and Tanzania are among 26 projects from 22 countries selected in the third cycle of Expo Live’s flagship Innovation Impact Grant Programme, following a rigorous evaluation process that included live presentations in Dubai.

Competition was particularly strong in this cycle, with more than 1,200 applications from 114 countries.

Among the new Global Innovators is a Ghanaian woman who is empowering other women by teaching them how to grow a local wild grain called fonio on abandoned lands.

Through her social enterprise, Unique Quality Products, Salma Abdulai engages disenfranchised women to farm abandoned land; helping them to provide for their families and gain financial independence.

Abdulai told Expo Live judges a heart-warming story about one of her women farmers: “While I was in hospital, pregnant, a woman who had just given birth was next to me crying all day. She’d just found out that her husband had run away because he couldn’t pay the US$2.5 a day to cover medical expenses.

“We offered her a job at the fonio farm, and now she has been making a stable income for four years and has been able to send her children to school – all by herself.”

To help such projects reach their full potential, Expo Live provides each successful initiative with a grant of up to US$100,000 made available as they meet ongoing conditions. Projects are also supported with business guidance and promotion, and may have a chance to showcase their work to many millions of visitors at Expo 2020 Dubai.

The Expo Live grant will help Abdulai purchase land from the community, and prevent the women from being evicted once fonio cultivation makes the land arable enough to grow other profitable crops.

The Global Innovators operate in an array of fields, including healthcare, education, renewable energy, fintech, waste management and water management.

South African start-up Mobbisurance aims to provide more affordable crop insurance for uninsured farmers by using satellite imagery and weather data instead of humans to validate claims. More than 90 percent of smallholder farmers in South Africa do not carry adequate crop insurance because of prohibitive costs, leaving them badly exposed to risks of natural disaster.

Kudzai Kutukwa, CEO at Mobbisurance said: “Through the Expo Live grant we intend to expand the pilot of 763 farmers to at least 5,000 farmers in South Africa, and to expand into neighbouring countries.

In Tanzania, the Institute for Orkonerei Pastoralists Advancement is helping Maasai women gain financial independence by commercialising their only asset, according to tradition – milk from cattle. Since 2007, the Institute has set up dairy plants that buy the women’s milk and use it to create dairy products sold around Tanzania. More than 3,000 women sell up to 8,000 litres of milk to the plant every day.

Martin Kariongi Ole Sanago, Director at the Institute for Orkonerei Pastoralists Advancement said: “I wanted to make a real difference and create a tool for empowerment that would bring Maasai women out of the cycle of poverty and shift the balance of power in their favour”.

The Expo Live grant will enable the project to reach more women and expand distribution.

Kenya’s Selina Wamucii is tackling supply chain inefficiencies in Africa that are preventing some 60 percent of smallholders’ produce from reaching the market. Through its mobile platform, Selina Wamucii allows buyers and exporters to source fresh produce directly from more than 3,000 smallholder farmers – without Internet access.

John Oroko, Co-founder of Selina Wamucii said: “Some of our mango farmers have increased their incomes by 60 percent – from USD$100 to US$160 – allowing them to pay for medical bills and their children’s school fees”.

In addition to recruiting 2,000 farmers, Selina Wamucii will use the Expo Live grant to acquire organic certifications to open up new markets and achieve even better prices for farmers.

Yousuf Caires, Vice President – Expo Live at Expo 2020 Dubai, said: “These innovators clearly demonstrate the creative and entrepreneurial potential of Africa. As the first World Expo to take place in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia (MEASA) region, Expo 2020 Dubai is excited to support them and help amplify their impact.”

“Expo Live is based on a firm belief that innovation can come from anywhere to everyone. This is a major component of our redefinition of what a World Expo can and should do: tap into its convening power well before the event to enable problem-solvers around the globe to promote innovation and build partnerships that leave a lasting legacy not only in the UAE and the region but across the world.”

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Full list of Expo Live Global Innovators from Africa:

Name Origin Details
Third Cycle

(14 May, 2018)

Institute for Orkonerei Tanzania Institute for Orkonerei helps Maasai women gain financial independence by commercialising their only asset, according to tradition – milk from cattle. The institute has set-up dairy plants that buy the women’s milk and use it to create dairy products sold around Tanzania. The Expo Live grant will enable them to reach more women and expand distribution.
Selina Wamucii Kenya Selina Wamucii has developed a mobile platform that allows buyers and exporters to source fresh produce directly from more than 3,000 smallholder farmers – without Internet access. The Expo Live grant will help them develop and expand the platform, as well as help farmers gain organic accreditation.
Mobbisurance South Africa South African start-up Mobbisurance provides more affordable crop insurance for uninsured farmers by using satellite imagery and weather data instead of humans to validate claims. The Expo Live grant will help an additional 5,000 farmers get insurance.
Unique Quality
Product Enterprise
Ghana Unique Quality Product engages disenfranchised women to farm fonio, a local wild grain that grows in harsh environments and is highly nutritious, helping to address the issues of women unemployment and food insecurity. The Expo Live grant will help the women buy the lands and expand operations.
Second Cycle

(2 October, 2017)

MOBicure Nigeria MOBicure’s OMOMI application helps expectant mothers and parents of under-five-year-olds monitor the wellbeing of their children from home, which can be life-saving for families living in remote areas or who cannot afford to attend a medical facility. The Expo Live grant will help build on the platform and bring it to the attention of more parents in the region.
First Cycle

(31 July, 2017)

Eco Fuels Kenya Eco Fuels Kenya makes biofuel, animal feed and organic fertiliser from nuts of the croton tree: one of the most prominent indigenous species across East Africa. The Expo Live grant will help scale -up the firm’s operations, optimise their supply chain and open additional plants.
West Africa Vocational Education (WAVE) Nigeria WAVE works with unemployed youth to teach them job skills and help them build a better career. Programme participants earn US$4-6 a day as their starting salary – higher than the average of US$2. The Expo Live grant will enable the project to open new academies and work with educators, other schools and employers.
Babyl Rwanda Rwanda Babyl Rwanda uses ‘chatbot’ technology to expand access to medical advice to all Rwandans – regardless of Internet access. The platform allows users to ‘call-in’ consultation with doctors using any mobile phone. The Expo Live grant will help the project integrate Artificial Intelligence to improve services.
Nuru Energy Nuru Energy is providing energy and income to rural Rwanda through its charging stations run by local entrepreneurs who sell electricity to their neighbours. The Expo Live grant will help scale-up the initiative and reinforce the network of micro-entrepreneurs that help provide more income opportunities.
Munch Bowls South Africa Munch Bowls is a biodegradable, edible food container that can replace plastic ones. The bowls are completely biodegradable and also nutritious. The Expo Live grant will help increase the production and open a manufacturing facility in Dubai.

 

What are World Expos?

  • The World Expo is one of the world’s oldest and largest international events, taking place every five years and lasting six months.
  • World Expos are unrivalled among international events in their size, scale, duration and visitor numbers. They are large-scale platforms for education and progress that serve as a bridge between governments, companies, international organisations and citizens.
  • They are festivals for all, where everyone can learn, innovate, create progress and have fun by sharing ideas and working together. Each Expo revolves around its own theme to leave a lasting impact on the path of human progress. Expo 2020 Dubai’s theme is ‘Connecting Minds, Creating the Future’.
  • The first World Expo was London’s Great Exhibition of 1851.
  • Buildings and products first revealed at World Expos include the Eiffel Tower, the Seattle Space Needle, the typewriter, the television and even Heinz Tomato Ketchup.
  • Founded in 1928, the Bureau International des Expositions (BIE) is the intergovernmental organisation that regulates and oversees World Expos, preserving the core values of education, innovation and cooperation on behalf of its 170 member-states.

What are Expo 2020’s aims?

  • Throughout its history, the UAE has shown the world what is possible through its remarkable development. With Expo 2020 Dubai, we want to engage with people throughout our journey, to play a part in inspiring the next generation and, together, spark innovations that underpin the coming 50 years of human progress.
  • Expo 2020 will be a celebration of creativity, innovation, humanity and world cultures. We are extending an invitation to people from around the world to join us and experience a World Expo. It will be a time to create and renew connections that will strengthen and deepen through 2020 and beyond. It is a time to be awed by the spectacular events programme and a time to do business.
  • Expo 2020 Dubai will contribute to achieving the UAE Vision 2021 National Agenda by supporting the growth of tourism, stimulating the development of innovative businesses in the UAE, and enhancing the country’s international reputation as a location to do business.
  • Through our youth and business engagement activities, and the Expo itself, Expo will stimulate the economic, cultural and scientific growth, and unlock the potential of one of the world’s youngest and fastest-growing populations
  • Expo 2020 Dubai is committed to building a legacy that is sustainable and enduring, and will set a benchmark for future World Expos.
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