Industry Experts Explore New Ways to Attract Foreign Investment to Africa

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  • High-level panel at Global Business Forum (GBF) Africa 2021 in Dubai joined by UAE and African business leaders who shared their views and insights on key investment trends reshaping the continent.
  • Oasis Enterprises CEO Hisham Al Shirawi: Africa remains a very high-growth-potential market and should be better promoted as such among other regions around the world to attract investments.
  • Renaissance Capital Chairman Risana Zitha: Healthcare and the digitisation of the economy are the two biggest areas where investments will be heading in the post-COVID-19 era.
  • Vodafone Ghana CEO Patricia Obo-Nai: Businesses that incorporate technology into their processes will see the most investments coming through.

Dubai, UAE – African and UAE business leaders speaking at the Global Business Forum Africa 2021 (GBF Africa) in Dubai today shared their views and insights on key investment trends reshaping Africa, and explored new ways that markets across the continent can attract foreign investment.

Organised by Dubai Chamber under the theme Transformation Through Trade, the two-day forum kicked off today (October 13th) at Expo 2020 Dubai. The high-level forum is being held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai. 

A session titled Africa: The Final Investing Frontier brought together Hisham Abdulla Al Shirawi, CEO of Oasis Enterprises; Patricia Obo-Nai, CEO of Vodafone Ghana; and Risana Zitha, Chairman of the Board of Directors and Head of Investment Banking in Africa at Renaissance Capital – South Africa. 

Healthcare and the digitisation of the economy are the two biggest areas where investments will be heading in the post-COVID-19 era, noted Risana Zitha. 

“We have realised that there are certain sectors that have to be developed to help us get through this. A lot of countries demonstrated resilience in the face of the pandemic because of our young populations, but the funding needs of African countries have grown and we are witnessing many countries raise capital to meet their objectives,” said Zitha.

“There has been an incredible amount of investment into tech-led initiatives. Over USD2 billion has gone into over 500 African fintech companies just this year and seven companies have become unicorns. We have also started seeing venture capital funds focusing on diversified teams and women-led teams. This is all very encouraging, because it shows that investments will go where investors believe there will be a return, where they address a real problem,” added Zitha.

For his part, H.E. Hisham Al Shirawi emphasised that Africa remains a very high-growth-potential market and should be better promoted as such among other regions around the world to “attract investments and create a win-win situation. For its part, Africa must get the basics – including regulation and infrastructure – in place to spur growth in key sectors,” he urged.

“To attract further investment, governments and businesses on the African continent will have to cultivate deep relationships with other regions, not just for investment but also as markets for their products, suppliers of critical raw materials and knowledge partners in implementing industry best practice,” said Al Shirawi.

Al Shirawi identified fintech, telehealth, digital platforms for farmers, logistics, e-commerce and retail as key sectors offering tremendous potential. GCC-based companies are making progress on transport and energy infrastructure in Africa, while UAE companies are expanding their telecommunications infrastructure across the continent, he explained, adding that such developments are vital for enabling e-commerce, fintech and education, among other sectors, to thrive.

Joining the session remotely, Patricia Obo-Nai asserted that “businesses that incorporate technology into their processes will see the most investments coming through.”

Around 3.7 billion people in the world don’t have access to the internet simply because they don’t have the devices in their hand, said Patricia, who underlined the huge opportunity that this presents for Africa to work on closing this gap, entering the market, assembling smartphones, putting devices in people’s hands.

Vodafone Ghana’s CEO said that a majority of women in Africa worked in the informal sector and have demonstrated tremendous potential once they were trained to use smart devices. She urged investors to not look at the size of the woman’s business, but see the potential instead.

GBF Africa 2021 is being held at the Dubai Exhibition Centre on the sidelines of Expo 2020 Dubai. The high-level event brings together  government and business leaders from the UAE and Africa to explore bilateral trade and investment opportunities. The event is the first major business forum hosted by Dubai Chamber in partnership with Expo 2020 Dubai.  

About Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry:

Established in 1965, Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry is a non-profit public entity, whose mission is to represent, support and protect the interests of the business community in Dubai by creating a favourable business environment, supporting the development of business, and by promoting Dubai as an international business hub. www.dubaichamber.com

About Expo 2020 Dubai:

Explore new frontiers, embrace the opportunities, and join the making of a new world at Expo 2020 Dubai – a six-month celebration of creativity, innovation, human progress, and culture running from 1 October 2021 until 31 March 2022.