- Over 3,000 delegates from 91 countries attended the 6th edition of GBF Africa
- The high-level event was organised by the Dubai Chamber at Expo 2020 Dubai
- There was a record number of 550 bilateral business meetings conducted at GBF Africa
The UAE has reinforced its commitment to expanding its economic ties with Africa and highlighted the importance of international cooperation in creating new growth opportunities.
Speaking at the 6th Global Business Forum Africa, H.E. Sheikh Shakhbout bin Nahyan Al Nahyan, UAE Minister of State said that the UAE will remain committed to strengthening trade partnerships with Africa.
“It is undoubtedly our duty and responsibility to stand together and support one another in the face of adversity and hardships,” asserted H.E. Sheikh Shakhbout bin Nahyan said.
“Trying times like these can only reinforce the strong bonds that we have built over the years, which have defined our relationships as global partners.”
He added that these partnerships are a testament to the UAE’s keen interest in bolstering relations with Africa and the profound commitment to expanding opportunity and deepening relationships between the UAE and African countries.
The business forum was organised by Dubai Chamber in partnership with Expo 2020 Dubai on October 13-14, 2021, under the theme Transformation through Trade. GBF Africa 2021 closed on Thursday with a total tally of 550 bilateral meetings and 3,000 delegates taking part – including 600 who attended remotely. The participants represented 91 countries around the world.
Dubai Chamber President and CEO H.E. Hamad Buamim said: “This year’s edition of the Global Business Forum Africa saw a record number of bilateral business meetings between African and Emirati investors – the highest since the launch of the GBF series. This reflects the Forum’s growing importance and its reputation as a leading platform for establishing economic partnerships and strengthening trade relations.”
“Once again, GBF Africa has demonstrated that it is the ideal platform to launch partnerships, identify investment prospects and opportunities, and enhance economic cooperation between the local business community and their counterparts on the African continent,” H.E. Buamim added.
“We are confident that this meeting of influential decision-makers from both sides will give a strong impetus to bilateral ties, especially in the post-pandemic period, laying solid foundations to build on in the stages ahead.”
“The Forum’s success reaffirms Dubai and the UAE’s strong relations with promising African countries. It is an indication that the existing strategic partnership between the two regions is moving in the right direction and setting the stage for more collaborative systems to benefit from potential investment opportunities and drive sustainable development for all partners involved,” Dubai Chamber’s President and CEO concluded.
Before the event concluded, prominent business leaders representing various economic sectors in Namibia, Zambia and Ethiopia shared their insights on new plans to attract foreign investment, fill market gaps and expand infrastructure in their respective countries.
Speaking during a panel session at the GBF Africa 2021 in Dubai titled New Alliances, New Horizons, H.E Chileshe Kapwepwe, Secretary-General, Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), Zambia; Admassu Tadesse, President & Chief Executive Officer, Eastern and Southern African Trade and Development Bank (TDB), Ethiopia; and Nangula Nelulu Uaandja, Chairperson & Chief Executive Officer, Namibia Investment Promotion and Development Board (NIPDB), Namibia, discussed new ways to enhance African economies.
“Attracting foreign investment in Zambia is at the very top of our agenda. Foreign direct investment in Africa was recorded at $40 billion in 2020. We believe that by building strategic partnerships with key players in the African markets, we can build new opportunities to attract more foreign investors. Partnerships can help us transfer raw materials into finished goods, creating added value to the economy and enabling the Zambian business sector to trade its goods worldwide,” said Kapwepwe.
“Financial institutions in Africa are always looking to fund new megaprojects that will strengthen the economic structure. The implications of Covid-19 have built new norms for businesses around the world, and we have witnessed an enormous investment in sustainable finance, green bonds, and Covid bonds. Additionally, a huge boost to the health care sector, the bank is currently financing five hospitals compared to one in 2018. Covid-19 was indeed a wake-up call for us and led us to invest more in healthcare institutions. On the other hand, we have invested heavily in building the telecommunication infrastructure in Africa. We are currently financing fibre-optic cable projects that will provide a stable connection and help e-commerce grow. We believe that Africa has huge promising opportunities, and a bright future is waiting for us,” said Admassu Tadesse.
“Namibia is looking to build a dynamic economic structure focused on specific industries and 97 products. We are seeking to benefit from our strategic locations. The country is surrounded by three landlocked countries, which gives us a unique opportunity to be the commerce gate for three promising African markets. We believe that infrastructure has a vital role in attracting investments. Hence, we are working on several logistic projects that will enhance our position geo-economically; building rails, ports, and airports are a priority for our economic plan,” commented Uaandja.
All three speakers confirmed the need to build solid infrastructure across the African continent, stressing that it was the backbone of today’s economies. Building strategic partnerships is another key focus of public and private sector stakeholders across the continent as they look to unlock new trade and investment opportunities.
The speakers asserted that the African leaders should take control of the African public narrative, saying that Africa today is not like it used to be, with the continent boasting limitless business opportunities, a well-educated and trained workforce and abundant raw materials that can help build new horizons for the regional economy.
Held under the patronage of H.H Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, Dubai Chamber is organising GBF Africa 2021 – the sixth edition in the series – under the theme Transformation Through Trade. The two-day event is being hosted in partnership with Expo 2020 Dubai.