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‘Dubai Can Really Work With Africa’

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What are the current challenges of the commodities sector in Africa?

It is very challenging at the moment, some of the business sectors have been beaten down over the last few years. That is a challenge but it is also an opportunity. A place like Dubai can really work with Africa to give access to global markets for a lot of the commodity centers and that is what DMCC does because we work with various sectors which are not just of importance to South Africa but across sub-Saharan Africa. For instance we are talking about precious metals, we are talking about diamonds, we are talking about various agricultural products.  A lot of countries have been primarily dependent on the production of these commodities and commodity prices have not necessarily kept pace over the last few years, so the challenge is how do you get more of the supply chain value accrued to the local economies, rather than to be a primary exporter and producer of commodities?

How do you remain a disruptor in different markets?

What DMCC does in all the markets it is involved in times, is that if a market place exists we better it, and if a market place doesn’t exist then we create it. When I say create market places, it is about creating the hard and soft infrastructure.

How do you leverage Dubai as a global hub for trading?

Dubai has been a trade entrapper for many centuries and DMCC was actually set up to create trade flows through Dubai and that is exactly what we do. We are constantly looking at other commodity sectors where we could add value. Between precious metals and diamonds, the annual trade in the United Arab Emirates is about $75 billion. Today 60% of the world’s tea is imported out of Dubai. So that is how Dubai and DMCC act as a disruptor. Creating more efficient supply chains, creating market places that work for the benefit of the sellers as well as the buyers, and giving access to global markets through Dubai.

What do you think about blockchain and cryptocurrency?

It has a lot of usage. There are a lot of concepts coming out using blockchain technology. We are working on a few ourselves, but that will add trust and simplify transactions over a period of time. There is tremendous potential… but we have yet to see any big adoption of blockchain.

How do you see fintech changing the landscape in Africa and your region?

A couple of years ago, we commissioned a report on trade. One of the findings was the key factors that would influence trade for the next 10 years. We found that digitalization could bring in another 350 billion businesses and most of them will be small businesses. That can only be aided by fintech solutions and digitalization. If that promise is met, then you can have an additional $23 trillion coming into global trade for the next 10 years.

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