(2015-11-19) The Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry on Wednesday published a report into growth trends outside the natural resources and commodities sector in sub-Saharan Africa.
The report, entitled “Beyond Commodities: Gulf Investors and the new Africa”, was written by the Economist Intelligence Unit. It finds that Africa is resilient to the global recession, with East Africa being the most appealing region for non-commodity investment from the Gulf.
The report highlights opportunities in the development of shopping centres and hypermarkets, travel and tourism, and logistics. It points out that Gulf brands are among the front-runners in newer markets such as Mozambique.
Among the leaders in the field is Rani Investment, owned by Saudi businessman Adel Aujan. It is now the largest investor in Mozambique’s tourism industry – running luxury hotels in Pemba, Bazaruto Island, Maputo and Medjumbe Island. Rani Investment is also a partner in the 206 million US dollar project to construct and run the Rani Towers and the adjacent Radisson Blu Hotel in Maputo.
A key facilitator of the tourism industry is air travel. The report points out that Gulf based airlines have been entering into partnerships with African airlines to improve services. Thus, Emirates has taken over the management of the Angolan airline TAAG, and Etihad has bought a forty per cent share in Air Seychelles. Qatar Airways flies from Maputo to its hub where many passengers transfer onto flights to locations worldwide.
The report laments that Africa’s poor infrastructure and complicated multi-country bureaucracy has made logistics expensive for companies in every sector. But it sees opportunities for investors, particularly in Mozambique and Tanzania while these two countries develop their gas industries.
The report states that retail presents a huge opportunity as the African continent’s population grows and becomes increasingly urban, although “historically a lack of suitable retail space has been a major barrier”.
However, the report points out that a dozen new shopping centres were opened in Africa last year with a similar number expected by 2017. Among these is the “Mall de Mocambique”, located in the southern city of Matola, which will be one of the largest on the continent (67,000 square metres) when it opens next year (although other sources put the opening date as 2017).
The Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry has over 150,000 members. Dubai is one of the seven emirates that make up the United Arab Emirates.
According to Mozambique’s Investment Promotion Centre (CPI), last year the United Arab Emirates was the largest source of foreign investment in Mozambique. However, much of that 891 million US dollars of investment came from international companies which use Dubai as a financial centre. For example, the Brazilian company Vale used Dubai for the financing of its project to build the railway from the Moatize coal basin, in the western Mozambican province of Tete, to the mineral port at Nacala-a-Velha.
Dubai is looking to expand business links with Mozambique. According to the chairman of the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Majid Saif Al Ghurair, the Chamber plans to open an office in Maputo early next year.