With the sixth edition of the Global Business Forum Africa event series set to run this year from October 13–14, 2021 in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), businesses from Africa are increasingly looking at Dubai as a gateway for them to expand into markets across the GCC, Asia, and Europe.
Dubai’s focus on the African continent has been evident through GBF Africa, which aims at bringing the trade and investment community back together to explore bilateral trade opportunities between Dubai and Sub-Saharan Africa.
This year’s Forum is 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.
UAE has served as a hub that global businesses have used to launch and run their operations in the African continent for a number of years now.
According to Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s Director of International Offices Omar Khan, Dubai remains a major hub for African companies that want to do business with UAE’s part of the world, and expand their footprint abroad.
Even as most businesses across the globe continue to struggle due to the effects brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic, there are a number of benefits that UAE government offers to new business, which have continued to attract African business.
Khan in an exclusive interview with Entrepreneur Middle East explained that African companies that are keen on entering the UAE market can capitalize on the competitive advantages that the country offers.
Some of these advantages include the country’s strategic geographic location, world-class infrastructure, excellent logistics facilities, 100% foreign ownership, long-term residency, attractive free zones, and a business-friendly environment.
Easy licensing process
Acquiring a proper license for business is one of the challenges that one may face while trying to set up a startup in a foreign country.
However, the process is much easier in Dubai.
To help foreign businesses set up easily, there are professionals that are readily available to take them through the process, since this requires good knowledge of the local laws which will help one avoid obtaining the wrong license.
Ngozi Nzekwue, co-owner and Managing Director of Hatfield Solution Ltd, a London-based commodity solution provider with operations in Uganda notes that she engaged a UAE-based Public Relations company to help ease the licensing process, which allowed her to concentrate on business development from day one.
Reduced registration fees and rates
As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, registration fees and rates have been reduced for new companies seeking to make inroads into the UAE market.
This therefore, makes it an ideal time for African companies to get into this market.
Integrity and truthfulness
The key values that govern doing business in the UAE are integrity and truthfulness.
The government does not allow any short- cuts or undercover in business dealings, leading to transparency and the win-win mindset.
Unlike other governments, the UAE government operates more like a private sector.
This means that entrepreneurs wanting to set up shop in the country don’t have to worry about governmental red tape, and can concern themselves with aspects that can ensure the success of their businesses instead.
The UAE takes standards seriously, and therefore, African businesses should pay particular attention to product and service standards in the country.
According to Bernard Kingsley Annoh, the founder and Group CEO of The Berlin Group International, a Ghana-based umbrella company for Berlin Cosmetics, UAE is also home to many brands from many countries, from the US to New Zealand, and each market category has so many competing companies, and therefore, you must be well prepared to compete in order to win some of the market share.
Top-notch logistics infrastructure
A top-notch logistics infrastructure is also one of the advantages Dubai presents for any business operating in the Emirates.
In addition to Emirates Airline and its cargo, the Emirate’s sea ports are one of the best in the region.
While thinking of setting up a business in Dubai, finding the personnel to work with should never be part of your worries.
Personnel are never in short supply in the UAE since professionals from all over the world are available to join in your company.
Dubai Chamber’s Khan notes that companies in the UAE would be wise to look at opportunities in the African continent that they can capitalize on as well.
According to him, Africa is a market of strategic importance to Dubai Chamber, and a major focus of their international expansion strategy.
The Chamber already has its representative offices in Ethiopia, Ghana, Mozambique, and Kenya, all of which play an active role in identifying opportunities in those markets that offer the most potential for the business community in Dubai.
Khan further notes that the ever-expanding trade links between Africa and Dubai are a positive sign that their efforts are bearing fruit.