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Why the UAE is leading the Gulf with $1.2bn invested in sub-Sahara Africa

ABUJA, (The Southern African Times) – The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) report, commissioned by Dubai Chamber in the lead up to the 6th Global Business Forum Africa in Dubai, showed that the UAE has invested a total of , $1.2 billion between January 2016 and July 2021.

The UAE accounted for 88 percent of investment from the GCC to sub-Sahara Africa over the past five years, according to new research.

The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) report, commissioned by Dubai Chamber in the lead up to the 6th Global Business Forum Africa in Dubai, showed that the UAE has invested a total of , $1.2 billion between January 2016 and July 2021.

Based on a survey of 200 business leaders in sub-Saharan Africa, representing a wide range of economic sectors, the whitepaper examined several trends reshaping the business landscape in Africa during the pandemic, African markets’ responses to new challenges, and the post-pandemic business outlook.

Fintech, healthcare, agriculture, and e-commerce were identified in the report as high-potential sectors where business leaders see revenues expanding in 2022.

Around 90 percent of surveyed executives said they expect fintech to see the most growth in 2022, followed by healthcare (89 percent) and agriculture and food (87 percent).

The report also highlighted Africa’s need to provide the basics, including legislation, regulations, and infrastructure to promote growth in key sectors.

Among the recommendations outlined in the report are building a new business structure that ensures the economic basics for African markets, adopting legislation to regulate economic sectors and direct the economy towards achieving sustainable strategic goals, and providing the necessary infrastructure for business growth and prosperity.

Key obstacles limiting bilateral business exchange include burdensome regulations and bureaucracy were considered the top impediment to growth, cited by 59 percent of executives surveyed, as well as a lack in public amenities, inadequate roads that are unable to connect suppliers and manufacturers with retail centres, and a weak digital infrastructure.

The digital economy sector has been attracting growing and unprecedented investments, especially in financial technology. Indeed, funding for fintech firms in Africa increased to more than $330 million in the first half of 2021, up from $107 million in 2019.

The report said the UAE offers the right level of expertise, investment and resources needed to fill market gaps in Africa and support the continent’s sustainable growth and development.

Trade ties between the two regions reveal untapped potential, with each region relying on the other mainly for its staple products.

Oil and petrochemicals are the top GCC exports to Africa, accounting for 24 percent and 16 percent, respectively, in the 2016-2020 period. Meanwhile, gold and diamonds dominate the GCC’s imports from Africa, making up 62 percent of the total in the same period, followed by copper, accounting for 8 percent.

Hamad Buamim (pictured above), president & CEO of Dubai Chamber, said the findings shed light on vast untapped business potential in Africa, which UAE companies can capitalise on, and noted that the report supports Dubai Chamber’s efforts to identify new business opportunities and drive bilateral trade.

“Africa is one of our biggest trading partners and is fundamental to our economic growth. Meanwhile, Dubai has long been a favoured destination for African companies and a launchpad for businesses looking to expand out of the continent and into global markets. Providing accurate data and studies about emerging markets is part of our efforts to shed light on investment opportunities for Dubai’s business community,” he added.

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