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Africa is quickly becoming one of the ICT investment opportunities, according to industry experts at the GITEX tradeshow. Keen to explore this emerging market and promote its ICT opportunities for global and Middle East-based companies, the trade show is putting on the continent. This year, the event has seen a 23% increase in exhibitors from countries like Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, Nigeria and South Africa. Strong trade delegations are also present from countries like Zambia, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, Uganda, Tanzania, South Africa, Lesotho, Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco.


“We see this event as the ideal opportunity to foster business links between Middle East and African companies. Given the new geopolitical situation, countries like Tunisia, Morocco and Egypt are looking for new markets and opportunities and Dubai is now theplace to look for partners and promote events and products,” says ChihabBargaoui, business development and relationship manager with Sfax International Fair Association, a part government-backed exhibition organiser in Tunisia.

The “Africa in Focus” highlight comes at a time when regional investor buzz is moving from the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) nations to also encompass the emerging continent, particularly potential economic powerhouses such as Nigeria. Africa’s ICT sector has grown in recent years and is predicted by IT market analyst IDC to grow nearly 13% year on year in 2012.

Anticipating this prospect, GITEX will provide the opportunity to broaden existing links and develop new partnerships in the ICT sector between Africa and the Middle East. According to DHL, South Africa is the UAE’s 13th most important market for non-oil exports, while Dubai Exports notes that total exports and reexports from Dubai to South Africa valued at US$408 million in 2011. Trade between Africa and Dubai had previously registered steady growth as more and more African countries continue to adopt free trade policies and recognise Dubai’s position as an international trading hub.

Furthermore, there is encouragement to be had from surging mobile adoption growth rates across sub- Saharan Africa. The Arab Advisors Group says a CAGR of 14% by the end of 2016 can be expected across the Democratic republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Madagascar, Mozambique, Senegal, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe. 

 

Underpinning this trend, the International Monetary Fund predicts Sub-Saharan Africa’s economy to grow by 5.5% in 2012, owing in part to a fast-growing and brand-savvy middle class. Meanwhile, the African Development Bank estimates 313 million people, or a third of the continent’s population, hover between extreme poverty and extreme wealth. Only four years ago, just over 100,000 Africans had a net worth equal to 60% of Africa’s GDP.

According to investment firm Fidelity Worldwide, Africa remains off the radar for some Western investors due to a negative perception of the continent. However, there is a gap between perception and the reality on the ground. Anthony Peter, director of Direct Communications & Customer Care (DCCC) Group, Panasonic Marketing Middle East & Africa, says: “Africa is a key growth market for Panasonic, and as a company we continue to invest in the continent, both by setting up representative offices and concept showrooms.”

TrixeeLoh, SVP, Dubai World Trade Centre, organiser of GITEX, says Africa is seeing a tremendous shift toward realising the full potential of the benefits of technology, across all sectors. “ICT in Africa is growing at a vigorous pace and there is ample opportunity to take advantage of technology solutions as the information economy is becoming one of the main drivers for growth.”

---DWTC

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