There cannot be food on the table without the full economic participation of citizens

By Michael Tichareva

I had the pleasure to be invited to the Global Business Forum Africa 2021 – held at the Dubai Exhibition Centre on 13th and 14th October 2021, organised by the Dubai Chamber of Commerce in partnership with Expo 2020 Dubai under the theme “Transformation Through Trade”.

It was a great networking event, as I managed to leverage the event to acquire new and solid business relationships that I would otherwise not have managed had I chosen to stay away.

It was truly remarkable – I held at least 10 meetings in two days with different potential business partners, including some large Dubai based investors and banks.

I also had the opportunity to visit up to 6 African countries at their pavilions at Expo 2020. Hopefully this will translate into tangible business and revenue in years to come.

 

Proceedings at The Forum

 

The Forum, now in its 6th year, encourages international revenue flows into Africa by engaging leading decision-makers on the global investment scene.

It involves prominent African stakeholders engaging in dialogue at the highest level of implementation, advising on key strategic directives related to Africa’s economic outlook.

 

 

It was attended by Heads of State, ministers, high-ranking government officials, and prominent influential business leaders from Africa.

I was in the mix among the audience alongside the Zimbabwean Vice President (VP) of Zimbabwe – Dr Constantine Chiwenga, who had a chance to present on how Zimbabwe turned the Covid Pandemic into an opportunity.

Opportunities

The VP had the following to say:

1. Reduced export consumption with increased local production
2. Industry capacity utilisation increased from below 36% to 49%, and expected to exceed 61% by end of 2021
3. Goods on Zimbabwean shelves in retail supermarkets increased from below 10% to more than 70%
4. Opportunities in agriculture, mining, financial services, manufacturing and tourism
5. The use of tertiary institutions of higher learning such as NUST to launch innovation hubs such that Zimbabwe has been able to produce some of its personal protective equipment during the pandemic.

 

 

A highly educated population, probably the highest in Africa, made these swift changes possible with immediate results, as skilled human capital could be deployed easily.

The VP said, whilst Covid-19 was devastating, it also gave Zimbabwe an opportunity to showcase its capabilities.

It is imperative for both business and Government to continue working together as Zimbabwe revives its economy. There is still a lot more work to do over the next decade as Zimbabwe works towards vision 2030.

However, this cannot be achieved by the Government alone, but through the active participation of citizens.

There cannot be food on the table without the full economic participation of citizens, and without the Government creating an enabling environment to do sustainable business.

With Zimbabwe being a hard working nation, nothing is impossible. I remain positive.

Africa rising

Africa is certainly rising on the Global stage. I was particularly inspired at the Forum when I listened to HE Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem, the Chairman and Group Chief Executive of Dubai Ports World (DP World), a Dubai based state owned conglomerate employing more than 80 000 people, and expanding its wings through managing ports and logistics around the World.

 

 

He narrated the success story of their world class port in Senegal where they have trained the Senegalese who are now being deployed to manage other DP World ports around the world.

It’s a remarkable story of how Africans can conquer the world through the support of international partners like DP World.

HE Bin Sulayem also discussed how the CDC Group, established in 1948 as the UK’s development finance institution, and has been at the forefront of supporting companies that help poor countries grow, has partnered with DP World to deploy up to US$1.7 billion in logistics infrastructure in Africa over the next few years, starting with modernising three ports.

The investments will initially focus on expanding ports operated by DP World in Egypt’s Ain Sokhna, Senegal’s Dakar, and Berbera in Somalia’s breakaway region of Somaliland.

DP Word has committed to invest $1 billion over the next few years, while CDC has committed $320 million, and potentially investing up to a further $400 million.

It is expected that the joint investments will eventually be expanded to other regions in Africa, in what DP World and CDC hope will accelerate inbound and outbound trade for the continent.

DP World is also the same company that is behind the US$260 million rehabilitation of the Beira-Mutare and the Maputo-Harare railway lines. DP World Maputo, which has the concession to manage, develop and operate the Maputo container terminal, announced in June 2021 the launch of the first dedicated container train service connecting Maputo and Harare.

The new service is part of DP World’s continued focus to expand its logistics and supply chain offering in the region, and key to its vision to connect several countries in Southern Africa. All these are, indeed, welcome developments as Africa rises.

 

Michael Tichareva is the Managing Director of National Standard Finance Africa and the Executive Chairman of its affiliate, Claxon Actuaries. He can be reached on mtichareva@natstandard.co.za or michael.t@claxonactuaries.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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