Dubai to tap into Africa growth via key investments
Mohammad welcomed the participants and said the UAE is a link between African countries and other countries around the worldDubai: The Dubai government is turning its attention to Africa in a bid to cash in on the world’s second most populous continent through a series of key strategic investments. The message was clear at the Africa Global Business Forum in Dubai held on Wednesday. In what may have been a clear sign of Dubai’s intentions, Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, sat in on the forum during a panel discussion featuring the Presidents of Ghana, Ethiopia and Rwanda.
Shaikh Mohammad received African leaders and officials participating in the forum, and expressed his satisfaction that Presidents of African nations have chosen Dubai as the host city for the forum. He also reaffirmed that the UAE welcomes cooperation with African countries, and said that the UAE is ready to share with brotherly countries and peoples its expertise in development, knowledge-based economy and technology.
Shaikh Mohammad welcomed the participants and stressed that the UAE is a link between African countries and other countries around the world, particularly Europe.
He added that such meetings and forums provide an opportunity for the exchange of expertise between various nations, creates new opportunities for investment and strong economic and investment partnerships.
Mohammad Ebrahim Al Shaibani, head of the emirate’s sovereign wealth fund, Investment Corporation of Dubai (ICD), said on Wednesday that more deals are likely to follow last month’s $300 million (Dh1.1 billion) stake in Nigerian firm Dangote Cement.
“We have been looking at Africa for a long time. We are looking to do more with Dangote,” he said at the forum.
Dangote Cement has a market value of around $23 billion and its President and Chief Executive Aliko Dangote is Africa’s richest man. Dangote told Bloomberg on Wednesday that future deals with the ICD, could stretch into billions of dollars.
Al Shaibani said he was interested in agriculture and infrastructure projects while Dangote, which was also represented at the forum, told Bloomberg it has also agreed to invest in oil ventures.
Dubai, like many other investors, is eyeing opportunities in Africa that could represent a sizeable return. Earlier this week, Emirates, one of ICD’s crown jewels, announced on Tuesday it is taking over the management of Angola’s national airline, TAAG, in a ten-year deal with the African nation’s government.
DP World plans
Other state-owned companies also used the forum to earmark their intentions. DP World, one of the world’s largest port operators, has plans to develop a free zone in West African country, Senegal, the company’s Chairman, Sultan Ahmad Bin Sulayem said. Bin Sulayem did not elaborate on the companies intentions but said he is “definitely bullish” on Africa. He also said DP World “would go tomorrow” if an opportunity arose in Nigeria.
Tim Clark, Emirates president, meanwhile, told reporters at the forum that the Angolan government had directly approached Shaikh Ahmad Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, President of Dubai Civil Aviation and Chairman and CEO of Emirates airline and Group (for the management deal). Clark also said that Emirates intends to fly to 30 destinations in Africa by the end of the decade. It currently operates to 22 African destinations.
Separately, flydubai announced on Wednesday the launch of flights to Entebe Uganda and Bujumbura in Burundi.
Earlier, Hamad Bu Amim, president and chief executive of Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry, used his opening address to stress how seriously Dubai sees the African continent. “Future investment opportunities lie in Africa,” he said.
But during a panel session, attendees, many from Africa’s political and business landscape, were asked which country or region would contribute the most foreign investment to Africa in the coming decade. More than 60 per cent said China, which has made inroads throughout the continent funding infrastructure developments.