Two weeks after the Global Business Forum Africa 2019, held in Dubai, it amazes me how some people still have doubts regarding the trade situation between the Emirates and Southern Africa. What many considered to be a simple extractionist moves from Dubai to African markets was simply proved to be wrong for the many that attended the GBF 2019. The event had an attendance of over 2,500 delegates from more than 75 countries – an increase of over 50% from the previous Forum.
African nations have engaged in formal trade with Dubai and other nations of the Persian Gulf since the 1980’s. In the past decade over IS$200b in non-oil products was traded between Dubai and Africa, in the most recent years, the Dubai Chamber of Commerce (DCC) has focused it’s trade operation in Southern African countries. This progress in relations can be observed with the opening of DCC offices in countries such as Mozambique, Kenya and their neighbour in the West, Ghana. The trade is not only limited to countries that have an active International Office in their country, the offices were established in other to improve regional trade and commerce.
Oil has been a current hot topic of discussion, but it should be left out of trade discussions between Africa and Dubai. The main focus in the discussion should be technology and the future of Fintech in relation between the Emirate and the Continent. Nigeria in 2018, received over $300 m USD from Dubai directed to Fintech and Online currency start-up firms. The numbers do not stop with Nigeria, in February on 2019, Sheikh Rashid al-Maktoum authorised an investment fund of over $200 m USD to be used in the next years directed towards Northern African Tech companies; with a focus on Artificial Intelligence and Crypto-technology.
The GBF Africa 2019, also decided to have a look at the promising start-ups with potential for growth amid Africa-Dubai trade. The conference held a panel dedicated to its mentorship program created earlier this year in Kigali, Rwanda. According to the GBF website“ this unique programme is custom designed by startups, for startups, bolstering their potential to scale across markets.” A very good concept that will most likely be successful with the flourishing of further trade between the UAE and Africa as a whole.