Forbes Africa | 1 September 2021
A turning point for Dubai-Africa trade
By Hamad Buamim
The Global Business Forum Africa in Dubai and Dubai Chamber’s representative offices across the continent have catalysed bilateral trade growth over the last decade.
Dubai’s trade with Africa has grown by leaps and bounds over the last decade, thanks to several important developments that have established new business links between the emirate and promising markets across the continent.
The emirate’s trade and investment relationship with Africa has gone from strength to strength in recent years as more African companies have entered the UAE, while many UAE companies have expanded their presence in Africa.
Among the most crucial factors that facilitated bilateral trade and investment flows is the Global Business Forum Africa in Dubai. Since this high-profile event series was launched by Dubai Chamber in 2013, Dubai’s non-oil trade with Africa has surged by over 71 percent to exceed $50 billion in 2020.
The 6th edition of the Global Business Forum Africa, set to descend on Expo 2020 Dubai October 13th -14th, 2021, comes at a time when UAE-Africa ties are rapidly expanding as the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and regional integration efforts gain momentum.
Dubai’s trade with Africa is projected to see an annual increase of up to 10% over the next five years following the implementation of AfCFTA, according to recent analysis from Dubai Chamber.
The changing dynamics brought forth by AfCFTA and the Covid-19 situation have created an opportunity for businesses in Dubai to re-position themselves and explore new African markets as they prepare for recovery.
As a world-class business hub located within close proximity to the continent, Dubai is an ideal partner that is well-positioned to unlock Africa’s untapped economic potential and support the next phase of the continent’s development.
From sustainable agriculture to logistics, free zones, finance and advanced technologies, Dubai has the right level of expertise and investment needed to fill market gaps in Africa.
Food security is another area of mutual interest offering a lot of potential as many African countries are major agricultural exporters, while the UAE has a new strategy in place that aims to diversify its food imports.
Yet, there remains huge potential to further expand the scope of bilateral trade and investment to other areas and fields of mutual interest, such as fintech, artificial intelligence, digital transformation, blockchain and smart city solutions.
Dubai’s strategic position as a thriving transit hub at the intersection of Asia, Europe and Africa makes it an ideal market that African companies can leverage to restart their businesses and boost their global footprint as they position themselves for post-Covid recovery.
With its close proximity to African markets, valuable expertise, and strong appetite for foreign investments, Dubai has all of the advantages and resources needed to support the region’s future growth.
Through its network of representative offices in Ghana, Kenya, Ethiopia and Mozambique, Dubai Chamber is well-positioned to support companies in the UAE that are keen to capitalize on business opportunities emerging across the continent.
The ever-expanding trade links between Africa and Dubai are positive sign that our efforts are bearing fruit. We look forward to exploring investment opportunities in new sectors and areas that UAE companies can benefit from.
The current timing is ideal for African companies to leverage GBF Africa and Expo 2020 Dubai platforms to explore new business prospects, expand their global footprint and foster cross-border partnerships that drive sustainable growth.