The perfect platform to bridge business communities
Written by Jonathan Williamson
Dubai is placing Africa centre stage as it emphasises the growing ties between the region and the continent, promoting itself as a stable, secure gateway to trade and investment opportunities by hosting the Africa Global Business Forum 2013 (AGBF 2013).
“Africa is home to some of the world’s fastest-growing economies and offers the highest risk-adjusted returns on foreign direct investment among emerging economies,” said Director General, Dubai Chamber of Commerce & Industry, HE Hamad Buamim.
“The continent has a middle class estimated to be around 313 million which is driving significant consumer growth. At the same time, 70 percent of its population is under 35, helping to power further economic development,” he added.
At the two day event, held between 1 and 2 May, a multitude of global ministers, delegates and high-ranking business executives presented a variety of seminars and discussions such as Buamim himself; President and CEO of PTA Bank Adamssu Tadesse; Republic of Seychelles Vice President Hon. Danny Faure; UAE Minister of State HE Reem Ebrahim Al Hashimy; and Dubai Chamber of Commerce & Industry Chairman HE Abdulrahman Saif Al Ghurair.
Of the 48 other speakers, notable examples included Prime Minister of Uganda Rt Hon Amama Mbabazi; CEO of African Development Corporation Dirk Harbecke; Rwanda Minister of Trade & Industry Hon Francois Kanimba; Zambia’s Former Cabinet Minister & Leader of Opposition in Parliament Hon Felix Mutati; MD of Al Islami Foods Saleh Lootah; COMESA Secretary General HE Sindiso Ngwenya; and Founder of Astute Capital Stella Kilonzo.
In total more than 2,000 participants from across Africa, the GCC, Asia, Europe and beyond were expected to attend, all hoping to discuss the current challenges and business opportunities which exist in relation to the forum’s key pillars of trade, tourism, logistics, finance and agribusiness.
In reference to the key pillars, Buamim said: “Dubai’s position as an international re-export hub can be utilised for trade both to and from Africa, with trade being a major growth area for Dubai investors. Finance is an under resourced sector in Africa on the whole; opportunities exists for Dubai to export its expertise in Islamic finance.
“Logistics is a core economic driver in Dubai, with long distances and storage difficulties meaning that great opportunities exist for warehousing and distribution services across Africa. Dubai is a hub for tourist flows from all over the world; the city can be a hub for international passengers into and out of Africa, while simultaneously our tourism sector is booming an can accommodate increases in the number of African tourists.”
In regards to agribusiness, the Director General added: “Agriculture remains the biggest employer in Africa and agribusiness has the potential to drive the continent’s development. The UAE imports 80 percent of its food requirements, spending AED25.5bn in 2010, with Dubai alone having more than 13,500 food establishments.”
To better support its key pillars, as well as promote networking and dynamic interaction, three interactive zones play an important role in achieving the AGBF’s objectives. The African National Tourism Boards of Burundi, Rwanda, Sierra Leone and Zanzibar are among those accentuating their industry in the Tourism Zone.
The Investment Zone showcases potential economic opportunities in Africa via representative Investment Promotion Agencies (IPAs), with the aim of promoting business growth, foreign investment and cross-border partnerships in countries such as Zimbabwe. And the Meeting Zone is on-hand to serve as an ideal private and comfortable location for delegates to connect and take their discussions further.
“Dubai is a gateway to global firms looking to do in business in Africa as the emirate’s close proximity and business-friendly climate is an ideal hub for the continent,” said Buamim. “Dubai offers international companies a safe haven to do business across the Middle East, African and South Asian regions. At the same time African entrepreneurs seeking expansion into European and American markets can use Dubai as a base.”
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, the forum is organised by Dubai Chamber of Commerce & Industry and COMESA (Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa) Regional Investment Agency.
The origins of this year’s AGBF can be traced back to the 4th COMESA Investment Forum held in Dubai for the first time in 2011. COMESA is Africa’s largest economic community, comprising 19 member states from Libya to Zimbabwe, with the previous Investment Forums helping to create interactions between business leaders, policy-makers and experts from the six-member strong Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) and the various COMESA states.
Though hailed as a success, Africa has far more business communities than COMESA, so the decision was made to broaden the scope of the original forum resulting in this latest undertaking.
Under a far wider remit, the new forum encompasses the original COMESA and GCC organisations, as well as the East African Community (EAC), the South African Development Community (SADC), the Indian Ocean Commission (IOC), the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), Intergovernmental Authority for Development (IGAD) and the African Union (AU).
At the time of publication, the event was due to be held in the stunning Madinat Jumeirah resort, a beautiful recreation of old Arabia meets contemporary luxury, a venue which perfectly encapsulates Dubai’s demonstration of ancient traditions combined with ultra-modern living.
Expo 2020: SAP Ariba to Digitise and Automate Procurement
Expo 2020, a World Expo that is set to be hosted by Dubai in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), was originally scheduled to run from 20th October 2020 until 10th April 2021, but, as with just about everything in the world of supply chain, the COVID-19 pandemic forced event organisers to postpone the highly-anticipated get-together. The new date for the Expo, which will be hosted in the Dubai Exhibition Centre, spanning across a 438-hectare space, is Friday 1st October, until 31st March 2022. But, there will be limitations to who can and cannot attend the event, so SAP has stepped in to fix the problem.
What is Expo 2020?
‘Expo 2020 and SAP have run a series of onboarding summits for Expo’s valued supply chain network. As Expo’s procurement needs shift from construction to interior fit-outs, facilities management and technology services, Expo 2020 and SAP will continue to provide ongoing one-on-one support, including a dedicated helpdesk, to guide suppliers throughout the evolution to digital transactions and processes.
Expo 2020 Dubai, which will open its doors to the world from 1st October 2021 to 31st March 2022, is the first World Expo and only the second mega-event to secure a Procurement Excellence Award from the Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply.’
SAP Ariba’s Solution
In a recent announcement, it was told that more than 25,000 of Expo 2020 Dubai’s local and global suppliers would benefit from a real-time, unified digital procurement and payment platform, thanks to technology provided by SAP, the events Innovative Enterprise Software Partner.
The solution, provided by SAP Ariba, will supposedly fully digitise and automate the procure-to-pay lifecycle, providing a streamlined digital experience for Expo 2020’s suppliers while simultaneously enhancing transparency and efficiency across the event’s global supply chain. ‘The global technology company’s cloud-based SAP Ariba procurement solutions run on its UAE public cloud data centre and connect to Ariba Network enabling buyers and suppliers to connect and transact’, according to SAP.
Mohammed AlHashmi, Chief Technology Officer, Expo 2020 Dubai, said: ‘Expo 2020 is a long-term investment in the future that aims to enhance opportunities for sustainable business connectivity and growth in both domestic and international economies. Our partnership with SAP is an example of what can be achieved with the invaluable support of our technology partners to host one of the most digitally advanced World Expos ever. The implementation of SAP Ariba solutions has transformed our end-to-end procure-to-pay cycle and helped set new standards of procurement automation for projects of this scale.’
Through SAP Ariba’s collaborative and mobile-friendly platform, any registered suppliers at Expo 2020 will be able to participate in sourcing events and the negotiation and signing of contracts; users will also be able to submit invoices and track payments in real-time. According to the platform, Expo 2020 has already transacted in excess of AED 1 billion on the platform, ‘highlighting its commitment to driving long-term business growth in the region and beyond, with a particular focus on small and medium enterprises (SMEs).’
Claudio Muruzabal, President of EMEA South, SAP, said: ‘Expo 2020 Dubai is demonstrating global best practices in digitising its procurement process with SAP Ariba solutions to help gain visibility into its spend, tighten collaboration with its suppliers, and achieve process automation, including completely paperless invoicing. Expo 2020 has already brought more than AED 1 billion in spend under management with SAP Ariba solutions.’