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UAE leads as GCC’s largest investor in Sub-Saharan Africa

October 12, 2021
finance & economy

The UAE has invested $1.2 billion in Sub-Saharan Africa over the five years, according to a whitepaper issued by The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU).

The UAE has emerged as the largest investor from the Gulf region in Sub-Saharan Africa, accounting for 88 per cent of investment between January 2016 and July 2021.

The UAE has invested $1.2 billion in Sub-Saharan Africa over the five years, according to a whitepaper issued by The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU).

The report was commissioned by Dubai Chamber in the lead up to the 6th Global Business Forum Africa in Dubai. The forum, organised by Dubai Chamber and Expo 2020 Dubai, is taking place from October 13 to 14 at Expo 2020 Dubai.

The whitepaper, which was based on a survey of 200 business leaders in sub-Saharan Africa, examined several trends reshaping the business landscape in Africa during the pandemic, African markets’ responses to new challenges, and the post-pandemic business outlook. It highlights prospects for boosting trade and investment flows between the GCC and Africa in the near future.

The report identifies fintech, healthcare, agriculture, and e-commerce as high-potential sectors where business leaders see revenues expanding in 2022. Around 90 per cent of surveyed executives said they expect fintech to see the most growth in 2022, followed by healthcare (89 per cent) and agriculture and food (87 per cent).

Hamad Buamim, president & CEO of Dubai Chamber, said the findings shed light on vast untapped business potential in Africa, which UAE companies can capitalise on. He noted that the report supports Dubai Chamber’s efforts to identify new business opportunities and drive bilateral trade.

Buamim said the whitepaper offered valuable insights on the evolving and expanding trade relationship between the UAE and African markets and identified new avenues of economic cooperation and prospects for forging mutually beneficial partnerships.

According to the report, key obstacles limiting bilateral business exchange include burdensome regulations and bureaucracy as well as lack of public amenities, inadequate roads that are unable to connect suppliers and manufacturers with retail centres, and a weak digital infrastructure.

The UAE offers the Africa region the right level of expertise, investment and resources needed to fill market gaps in Africa and support the continent’s sustainable growth and development, according to the white paper.

“Africa is one of our biggest trading partners and is fundamental to our economic growth. Meanwhile, Dubai has long been a favoured destination for African companies and a launch-pad for businesses looking to expand out of the continent and into global markets. Providing accurate data and studies about emerging markets is part of our efforts to shed light on investment opportunities for Dubai’s business community,” Buamim added.

The report stresses Africa’s need to provide the basics, including legislation, regulations, and infrastructure to promote growth in key sectors. It also highlights the digital economy as a leading engine of the continent’s growth, before underlining the role that GCC countries can play to support Africa to bridge the gaps in its infrastructure. It elaborates on the role that African companies can play in supporting Gulf economies and expanding in the region.

Building a new business structure that ensures the economic basics for African markets, adopting legislation to regulate economic sectors and direct the economy towards achieving sustainable strategic goals while providing the necessary infrastructure for business growth and prosperity are among the recommendations outlined in the report.


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