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Global players focus on African continent
By William Faria May 04, 2013
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DUBAI: With the global economy looking bleak in Europe and the US, investors are now heavily investing in Africa’s fast emerging economies, experts attending the Africa Global Business Forum 2013 disclosed.

The continent, they say continues to offer the highest risk-adjusted returns on foreign direct investment among emerging economies.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) recently predicted that no other continent will grow more strongly over the coming years than Africa.

At the same time Kenya’s Ambassador to the UAE, Mohammed Gello noted that the Gulf region, particularly the UAE has been quick to recognise the growing potential in the emerging markets of Africa and are working diligently to penetrate newer markets within the African continent.

Speaking to The Gulf Today on Thursday evening, at the sideline of the forum, the envoy disclosed that the African region holds key to future economic growth as it offers an immense scope for bilateral trade.

Gello noted that the Gulf region, particularly the UAE has been quick to recognise the growing potential in the emerging markets of Africa and are working diligently to penetrate newer markets within the African continent.

He said that governments across Africa have worked tirelessly to improve the business climate, which can only serve to strengthen its investment potential.

“Dubai’s position in the picture is a gateway into and out of the African continent. In fact, 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,” added the ambassador.

He noted that Dubai’s extensive infrastructure and modern banking, financial and legal systems, offer good protection to investors and facilitate the ease of doing business.

 “Kenya has had long and fruitful trade relations with the UAE. Trade between Kenya and the UAE has continued to grow,” said Gello.

Bi-lateral trade between Kenya and the UAE has been registering a steady growth during the last five years. Economic liberalisation policies adopted by the government of Kenya in recent years, coupled with the geographic proximity of the two countries has played an instrumental role in promoting direct trade between the business communities of the two countries, said the Kenyan envoy.

He revealed that the COMESA (Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa) market is expected to grow into one of the most lucrative markets in Africa with an estimated 500 million consumers by 2015.

COMESA is the largest economic bloc of African countries with 19 member states that includes Burundi, Comoros, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Rwanda, Seychelles, Sudan, Swaziland, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

During the two-day high-level forum, organised by Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry in cooperation with the COMESA Regional Investment Agency (RIA) witnessed representatives showcase their success stories and the business models that have been adopted to maximise the full potential of investments in the region. Participants at the event also discussed ways to contribute to Africa’s long term economic growth through close collaborations between local and foreign investors and the public sector.

The opening ceremony was attended by Sheikh Maktoum Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid AlMaktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai, and was opened by Sultan Al Mansouri, UAE Minister of Economy.

It is without any doubt that the UAE is one of the leading exporter of goods to several African countries, said Gello.

From a business perspective, the proximity of the UAE with the African continent makes it a more convenient business partner compared to Western countries, which are still coupled by economic crisis, he added.

The Ambassador cited the UAE as one of the leading source of Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) into Africa. The Government of Dubai, he added has actively partnered with many African governments in key infrastructure, financial sectors, telecom and tourism projects  among others.

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