Dubai Chamber of Commerce & Industry (DCCI) is planning to establish more offices in Africa following the success of a first representative office opened in Addis Ababa in May last year.
At the Swift International Banking Operations Seminar (Sibos) 2013, the Dubai Chamber revealed that the body has now also entered discussions on opening further offices in Nigeria, South Africa, Angola, Kenya and Ghana.
“We have started seeing the results of opening in Addis Ababa, business has risen more than 100% within a year and we expect that to continue,” Hamad Buamim, president and CEO of the DCCI, told Gulf News. “Ethiopia is to Africa as Belgium is to Europe – it is where the African Union is located, and this factored in our decision.”
Dubai’s trade with Africa has also witnessed the biggest increase in the last five years compared to other geographies, including Asia, affirmed Buamim.
“We have seen trade with Africa as a share of Dubai’s total trade increase from 6% to 10% in the past five years, from a value of roughly $10bn to a figure closer to $30bn,” he said.
Africa is of critical importance to Dubai, both as a significant export market that consumes a wide range of goods manufactured locally in the UAE, and for imports from overseas and particularly China that are then re-exported from Dubai.
“We have lot of dialogue with the Chinese and they say how Dubai is a gateway to the Gulf, a gateway to the Middle East and it can become the gateway to Africa,” said Buamim.
There has also been a 75% reduction in the trade between Dubai and Iran over the last three years as a result of sanctions and restrictions of the financial exchanges.
“Our trading community has reacted by opening up new markets and I would say some of these have been in Africa,” explained Buamim, adding that before the sanctions, Dubai had had the largest share of trade with Iran, valued at over $20bn.
Overall, the value of both Dubai’s direct and indirect trade stands at $360bn, a figure that is roughly four times its GDP.