Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem, group chairman and chief executive officer of DP World and chairman of the Ports, Customs and Free Zone Corporation, took the stage on GBF Africa 2021, to offer his invaluable insights on many topics of African development such as logistics, infrastructure, legislation and the ever-increasing role of education in the future of world development – or as he inspiredly put it – the age of the brain.
“One of the biggest issues in Africa is infrastructure.” – Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem
Ports, facilities, rails… Africa needs funding, and it can only come from private sources. We see that Africa has something no one else has. They have growth, more than any market we have seen, the potential growth in Africa is big. \
Capitalising on the theme of his panel “Partnerships for Prosperity”, moderated by Mark Eddo, he explained the role of ports in bringing prosperity into Dubai’s economy (Jebel Ali port and Free zone contribute to 32% of GDP in Dubai), and how this sucessful recipe can also apply to the African continent as a whole, provided that the right partnerships are forged and investment-friendly legislation is passed.
Free zones and ports create jobs. We have learned this. We have done this and it works. A common misunderstanding is that the port, by itself, doesn’t bring business. Industrial parks and a free zone does. This is something we learned in Jebel Ali: a free zone and industrial park creates a captive market for the port. I’ve seen many countries building ports and ports, but of course, if there’s no cargo to be transported, nobody will use that port.
Take the example of Senegal: fantastic country, a great government, highly educated people, pro-business attitude – that allowed us to invest, today we’re investing in the expansion of Dakar Port.
“The supply chain globally is inefficient; it is the most non-disrupted part of business today. We overcame this by digitizing whatever processes we could, and created digital platforms to reduce inefficiencies. We need more such digital platforms”.
سلطان أحمد بن سليم يستعرض خلال الجلسة الافتتاحية للمنتدى الشراكة التحولية بين دولة #الإمارات و #أفريقيا، بالإضافة إلى تسليط الضوء على أهم الدروس المستفادة في مجالات التجارة والاندماج وريادة الأعمال في أفريقيا. #GBFAfrica2021 @ssulayem @DP_World @DPWorldUAE pic.twitter.com/ekjt84EmAP
— Dubai Chamber (@dubaichamber) October 13, 2021
The role of education
Praising the fact that Africa is the youngest continent in the world, with great potential for a qualified labour force, he said:
“We are in the age of the brain and machine learning. The future wealth of a nation is in its innovative brain power, their ideas their knowledge, not in manual labour in factories”.
Private sector investment
When asked about policy legislation being in the forefront of incentivising investment and industry, he considers that:
“The private sector needs to play a role in developing Africa’s infrastructure. Take Egypt, for instance, President Sisi changed so much by reducing regulations and making laws more customer-friendly, bringing business naturally to their environment. The law should be simple and swift and investors will come.”