Thousands take part in first day of Dubai Week in Africa 2021 Virtual Expo
The Dubai Week in Africa virtual trade summit kicked off on Monday with thousands of business people, policy makers and media from around the word attending the online event which was graced by opening remarks from Dr. Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, Minister of State for Foreign Trade, Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem, Group Chairman and CEO of DP WORLD and Betty Maina, Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Industrialisation, Trade and Enterprise Development Government of Kenya among others.
The Dubai Week in Africa, a unique virtual trade mission designed by the UAE Trade Centre is taking place until 18th February, and seeks to build resilient trade relations between the UAE and Kenya by hosting inspiring panel discussions on vibrant business segments like Export and Trade, Free Zone & Investment, E-Commerce and Islamic Economy.
“UAE believes that increased partnership and cooperation with governments and private sector will be the key to building a stronger and more resilient post-COVID economy through this platform (Dubai Week in Africa 2021) we hope we will uncover new ideas and investment opportunities needed to make the global economy more competitive, more vibrant and more prosperous,” said Dr Zeyoudi.
“In 2019 trade between UAE and Africa increased by 14 percent, to nearly 50 billion dollars compared to 43.9 billion in 2018,” he explained.
Bin Sulayem in his opening remarks spoke of the importance of governance and connectivity in Africa in order to support global trade and recover from the COVID pandemic.
“The Africa Continental Free Trade Area could make Africa the World’s biggest free trade zone worth 2.5 trillion by 2030 the most important thing for investment is governance and rule of law, this is lacking in many African countries,” said bin Sulayem.
Kenya enjoys a special geographical position that makes it a valuable partner to businesses interesting in doing business further in Africa.
“Our “focus in the past and going forward is Africa we can link both gateways between Jebel Ali and Kenya in future in order to bring additional value to East Africa countries and Sub-Sahara,” said Abdulla bin Damithan, Chief Commercial Officer, DP WORLD during panel discussions.
Although Africa lacks the investment in critical infrastructure needed for global trade, investors speaking at the Dubai Week in Africa summit were optimistic that Africa could increase its competitiveness in a post-COVID world by investing in technology.
“Going forward, reports are saying that 1.9 trillion dollars is going to be spent in the logistics sector just on technology. Going forward what will distinguish logistics players is how good their I.T platform is, it is no longer the physical domain of warehouses it is technology that will make ‘Company A’ superior to ‘Company B’,” said Mohsen Ahmad, Chief Executive Officer, Logistics District, Dubai South during a panel discussion.
The Kenyan Government used the platform to affirm and remind those who attended of the strong trade bond that exist between Kenya and the UAE despite the ongoing decline in global commerce due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Kenya and Dubai have enjoyed a favourable trade relationship for over 40 years last year UAE exported to Kenya products worth 200 billion to Kenya and those goods were largely machinery and electronics, manufactured articles and textiles while Kenya sold about 30 billion to Dubai, Kenyan exports in the same period were mainly vegetables and large animals,” said Lawrence Macharia Karanja – Chief Administrative Secretary Kenya Ministry of Industrialisation, Trade & Enterprise, reading a speech on behalf of Betty Maina.
President of Kenya’s National Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Richard Ngatia also took the chance to advocate for more support towards Kenyan SME’s who could greatly benefit from special trade hubs and capacity building training in financial literacy and innovation.
“We need to create trade hubs here in Kenya and in Dubai in order to support SME’s we need to collaborate to make sure SMEs get the right information on opportunities in different markets at the right time Financial literacy and book keeping is very critical to supporting SME’s” said Richard Ngatia, President, Kenya Chamber of Commerce & Industry.
“We would want to see reduced tariffs, harmonised rules of origin as well and reduced costs of customs looking at the adoption of regional protocol on ecommerce as well,” explained Richard Ngatia, President, Kenya Chamber of Commerce & Industry.
Today’s session of Dubai Week in Africa 2021 was attended by thousands of participants who engaged with the honoured guests in very lively panel discussions.
“We have 1,112 people watching us which shows the power of the organizers and the relevance of the topic to people both in Kenya and also here (Dubai), I think that is really amazing,” said Dr. Ashraf Mahate, Chief Economist – Trade & Export Market Development, Dubai Exports who acted as moderator for today’s panel discussions.
After the launch, the event programme proceeded to scheduled Business to Business (B2B) meetings with Kenyan businesses that had been identified as having potential to learn from leading companies from Dubai.
The event is open to the public and participants can register and share the link for this special event: