UAE mulls more investment in African countries

DUBAI — The UAE investment in Africa is expected to increase significantly in coming years in developing its key sectors, UAE Minister of Economy Sultan bin Saeed Al Mansouri said.

By Abdul Basit

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Published: Thu 24 Mar 2011, 11:16 PM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 5:01 AM

“The UAE is particularly interested in developing African countries in tourism, infrastructure, oil, gas, mining, energy, transport, logistics, ports, IT and mobile communications sectors,” Mansoori said in his opening remarks on the first day of Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, or COMESA, Investment Forum.

COMESA is one of Africa’s most important and influential investment forum, which opened on Wednesday in Dubai. The forum is being organised by Dubai Chamber of Commerce in cooperation with COMESA RIA.

His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of UAE and Ruler of Dubai, also attend the forum’s opening session. Today, the UAE is determined to act as a catalyst for global growth, Mansouri said, adding: “The UAE is one of the major source and conduit of foreign direct investment (FDI) into Africa.”

He urged governments, decision-makers and the private sector from the UAE and COMESA to enhance their interaction to maximise the advantages and opportunities along the way forward.

In recent years the UAE has increased its focus on Africa, considering its rising prominence as the most promising market situated closer to the Middle East, the minister said.

Trade between the UAE and many African countries has been growing steadily in recent years. In 2010 UAE’s overall trade with six non-Arab African countries alone (Angola, Kenya, Nigeria, Ethiopia, South Africa and Tanzania) reached $6.2 billion in 2010.

“A key focus of our evolution over the years has been on building on our strategic location that enables us to serve as a hub and gateway into the fast expanding markets across the Middle East, Africa, Asia and Europe,” he said.

The Government of Dubai is already an active partner in infrastructure, telecom and tourism projects across various African countries, including COMESA member states. Dubai World, a government-owned organisation, has a special investment arm for investments into Africa called Dubai World Africa and some 30 investment projects in the continent, including marine terminals in Djibouti, Algeria, Senegal and Mozambique.

Recently the Government of Dubai played an instrumental role in launching a national airline for Djibouti.

In spite of what has been achieved so far there exists a tremendous potential for enhanced engagement between Dubai and Africa, especially COMESA countries, which has abundant land and resources, the minister said. Al Mansouri said that with adequate investment and successful business models to adopt, COMESA can achieve its deserving success as the most vibrant business, technology, and agricultural hub in Africa.

“I can assure you that Dubai and the UAE will be will be a role model in business excellence and global best practices when the ongoing reforms to streamline business environment and practices are fully implemented,” he said.

The Ministry of Economy is currently co-ordinating efforts to draft new laws and modify existing ones governing Competition, Foreign Investment, Arbitration, Intellectual Property, Companies, Industries and small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

Al Mansouri said the new laws are in the final stages and when implemented, they will lead to a cutting edge business environment capable of attracting foreign investment, accelerating economic diversification and promoting integration of UAE’s economy with the most competitive and promising economies and trade blocs in the world.

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