DUBAI, UAE, 2 October 2014, -/African Media Agency (AMA)/- Under the patronage and presence of H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice-President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, Africa Global Business Forum, organised by the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry, opened today, bringing together more than 700 government officials and business leaders from across Dubai, the Middle East and Africa.
At the opening speech H.E. Hamad Buamim, President and CEO of Dubai Chamber said that he believes that dialogue is the first step to opening new doors and creating exceptional relationships. Dubai Chamber is committed to being a key partner and active contributor in promoting sustainable development across the continent.
During the first half of this year, Dubai’s total non-oil trade with Africa reached a value of AED 60 billion (or around US$ 16.3 billion), according to Dubai Customs. The UAE is the main trading partner of Africa within the GCC, with approximately 80% of the UAE’s imports from Africa being primary products, such as food produce and beverages. In the last two months alone, Dubai’s two main carriers, Emirates and flydubai, have increased their connections from 31 passenger and cargo destinations in Africa in July to 38 different African destinations by the end of September.
The “Africa Rising – Leading the Continent towards Change” session saw three African Presidents contributing to the debate: HE Dr. Mulatu Teshome Wirtu, President of Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia; HE John Dramani Mahama, President, Republic of Ghana; and HE Paul Kagama, President Republic of Rwanda.
HE Dr. Mulatu Teshome Wirtu, President, Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia said:
“We need to set a foundation of social development, we need peace and stability in the continent in each African country, we need democracy and good governance, and then a sustainable economy will develop. In the absence of democratisation of society, we cannot anticipate any economic development. With democracy and good governance, peace and stability, we can have a vision of integrating into the world economy. We cannot use the same formula for all African countries. It has to be in line with the realities of each African country.”
HE John Dramani Mahama, President, Republic of Ghana, commented:
“As leaders, one of our major preoccupations is to attract investment in infrastructure – notably water, roads and healthcare. It is interesting that the audience today have also flagged legal barriers as an obstacle. Most of our countries are transferring from state dominated economies, and are shifting to allow more space for the private sector and to create an enabling environment for these companies. Additionally, we are trying to align school curricula with skills required in the job market in order to manage the existing skills gap.”
HE Paul Kagame, President, Republic of Rwanda, added:
“Africa’s transformation is possible, and to enable this we must fix a number of things; governance, infrastructure, skills, and knowledge, and ensure that the connections between African countries exist. We need to increase intra trade, so investments can happen. We have to fix governance and people’s transformation and make sure the resources of the country are rightly managed. To allow these to work, we must have institutions, mechanism and governance instructions and structures.”
In the opening session, titled “The inside story of the rise of Africa and Dubai”, HE Mohammed Al Shaibani, Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer, Investment Corporation of Dubai commented:
“We have been looking at Africa for a long time, across several countries, but we recognise it is a challenging environment with many unknowns. For investments in Africa having the right partner is key to kick-starting opportunities. We welcome our friends in Africa to use Dubai as a platform, and are proud to share our experiences and expertise.”
Aliko Dangote, Africa’s richest man, praised the UAE leadership’s vision of creating an environment for doing business with Africa, and urged businesses to help drive forward this relationship and added:
“Investment from the private sector is essential for African growth, as the continent’s governments have been incapable of managing these large-scale projects, and should instead focus their efforts on the education and health sectors. Africa offers huge potential for companies looking to invest, as a large market with almost $1.4 trillion in consumer spending.”
During the second session, “Beyond the Gates – Making Infrastructure Work for Business”, HE Sultan Ahmad bin Sulayem, Chairman DP World, said:
“Africa is a very important market, and we have invested in a number of countries there over many years. We look at the opportunities and they are unparalleled. Infrastructure is vital, however there are challenges including effective and well applied corporate governance. The continent needs foreign investment, which will only come if there is robust legal, regulatory and physical infrastructure. No one country can develop in isolation from its neighbours and the wider region. Connectivity is vital to open markets, grow trade and thereby grow economies, benefitting communities.”
The full programme and further information on the Africa Global Business Forum 2014 are available on: www.africaglobalbusinessforum.
Distributed by African Media Agency (AMA) on behalf of Africa Global Business Forum.