Gulf countries eye Africa for trade

The African Heads of States and Governments pose during African Union (AU) Summit for the agreement to establish the African Continental Free Trade Area in Kigali, Rwanda, on March 21, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / STR (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/Getty Images)

The African Continental Free Trade Area has increased the appetite of Africa’s trading partners and the rush to secure more economic cooperation opportunities. The United Arab Emirates is leading the pack of Gulf countries who are eyeing such opportunities with the African continent.

A man sits outside the office building of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Secretariat in Accra, the capital of Ghana, Aug. 17, 2020. (Ghana Presidency/Handout via Xinhua)

William Stenhouse Chief Executive Officer at Stenhouse and Associates said that looking at the United Arab Emirates and specifically Dubai, it has become the epicenter when it comes to trade and investment in Africa.

“It’s easy to see why THE Financial Times listed the UAE as the second largest Middle East
investor in Africa in 2018. The region’s leading business hub, Dubai is home to nearly 25,000 African companies,” said Stenhouse.

Tim Olatoke Chief Executive Officer at OjaMEA said that the UAE has been instrumental in building their markets. He added that many African businessmen are now buying their goods from them and shipping them back to the continent.

For the UAE, Africa home to some of the world’s fastest-growing economies represents the future, thanks to the African Continental Free Trade Agreement expected to create the world’s largest single market with some 1.3 billion people and synergies in food security—
crucial for the UAE which imports the majority of its food.

Trade between UAE and Africa is well positioned for the future partly due to ports operator DP World which recently acquired South Africa’s Imperial logistics—
expanding its capacity across the continent which—just a few years ago was responsible for 10 percent of DP World’s global revenue.

“Truly speaking, East Africa is part of the Middle East. The peoples in, in the Middle East and the Gulf region, are interconnected not only economically, but by culture and by blood. Many of the nationals from the Middle East have built relationships with people in the eastern part of Africa,” said Suleiman Dedefo, outgoing Ambassador Extra-Ordinary and Plenipotentiary, of Ethiopia to the United Arab Emirates.

Joe Osawaye an entrepreneur said that Dubai is catching up very fast. Adding that in
51 years the amount of achievements they have had tells so much about their vision and their leadership.

by Jim Stenman