Close and regular interaction are crucial for opening new doors and creating exceptional relationship with African countries, said Majid Saif Al Ghurair, chairman of the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry during his welcome speech at the third Africa Global Business Forum (AGBF), organised by the Dubai Chamber.
“There is no denying that Africa is a land of unexplored opportunities. We believe that Dubai, with its strategic location, stable economy, sound economic policies and world-class infrastructure, can be a key partner of Africa and a gateway for Asian countries into the continent.”
“We intend to build local partnerships by bringing together various stakeholders from both sides for an open dialogue. We would also like to take the opportunity to reinforce our commitment to continue working towards exploring new markets and enhancing cooperation between business communities,” Al Ghurair added.
Al Ghurair said the chamber was one of the first entities to recognise the continent’s potential and started its relationship with Africa by exploring the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) region. Now, it is more focused on seeking opportunities in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Twenty-one per cent of new companies who joined Dubai Chamber between January and October this year are from Africa. This indicates Dubai’s attractiveness to international businesses, he informed.
“The distinctive economic relations between the UAE and Africa are best represented in our strong trade statistics,” Al Ghurair said.
The UAE is Africa’s main trading partner within the GCC. Eighty per cent of the UAE’s imports from Africa are primary products, such as food produce and beverages.
Dubai’s non-oil trade with Africa reached $32.4 billion (Dh118 billion) in 2014, growing from $22.9 billion (Dh84.4 billion) in 2011, registering a 40 per cent increase.
Dubai Chamber is among few chambers in the world that have representative offices in foreign countries. In Africa, the chamber has two offices so far – in Ghana and Ethiopia. The chamber plans to open two new offices by the end of the first quarter of 2016 in Mozambique and Kenya, the chairman informed.
“We are also studying the possibility of opening other offices in a number of African markets. At present, we have 12,000 African companies registered with the chamber,” he added.