Author:Buamim, Hamad
Position:In conversion

What is driving the increased interest in Africa from a Middle Eastern and Gulf perspective?

The countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) have historically been keen to get involved in economic activity across the globe, especially in high-potential regions, to build on their own economic success and expand our economies--which benefits the local and regional business communities and allows us to play a part in the growth of other regions.

Awareness of the opportunities for Africa-GCC business links is limited, but growing. One widespread trend we have noticed, across both the African continent and the GCC, is the entrepreneurship streak among millennials. Even employed millennials have an entrepreneurial streak and want to do business differently--they eschew hierarchy, favour flexibility and want to be empowered.

As the businesses start to scale, entrepreneurs look for markets to expand into. African entrepreneurs are turning to the GCC for more than just capital. While the GCC has largely been viewed as a source of capital for African start-ups, in fact, GCC investors and businesses have a lot more to offer by way of knowledge-sharing on operational and legal strategies.

The Gulf is also increasingly becoming a destination for African products and services, particularly in the retail and food sectors.

Our goal at the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry is to help our members conduct their business as seamlessly, efficiently and lucratively as possible, but we also seek to help them grow their business and expand into high-growth, high-potential regions. The African continent has been making great strides when it comes to growth. The Eastern part has seen the most pronounced expansions; nevertheless, rapid economic development has been taking place all across the continent.

In 2016, Africa's combined GDP was more than $6 trillion, with annual GDP growth clocking in at 4%, according to the UN's Department of Economic and Social Affairs. Ethiopia, for instance, grew at a staggering 9.7%, while Rwanda's GDP grew at a rate of 7.2%.

The continent is now also poised to see growth in demand and trade activity: While Ethiopia maintains a growth of 10.4-10.8% for its imports between 2016 and 2018, Ghana's demand for imports in that same period is projected to grow from -9.8% to 26%. On the exports side, Nigeria's exports are expected to grow from 0.2% to 12.1%.

That said, Gulf States have been working with Africa for quite some time. Can...

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