LONDON—At the wake of booming young population and growing availability of great opportunities for investment, top firms are now targeting the continent of Africa as the world take note of the viable market it provides.
As the continent leaders jostle for investors and government-government partnerships, firms that have roots in Africa are also banking on their understanding of the local market dynamics to race ahead.
At the sidelines of the UK-Africa Investment summit in London, Dahabshiil Group Chief Executive Officer Abdirashid Duale said such opportunity was nearly impossible to be ignored. Dahabahiil is the largest money-transfer company in Africa with branches in over 125 countries globally.
“The continent’s population is more than two billion and it has the largest number of youth. Global entrepreneurs have seen Africa’s fast-growing population and markets present important opportunities for business,” said Mr Duale at the summit attended by 21 delegations including head of states and government.
It is not by accident that the UK has held the first trade forum with Africa this year, just before the onset of Brexit on January 31. Africa has eight of the world’s 15 fastest growing economies globally, and a population set to double to over two billion people by 2050.
Consequently, the UK is officially positioning itself as home to some of the world’s most enterprising technologies, and a global financial hub ideally placed to meet Africa’s rising investment needs.
Duale said Dahabshiil will continue investing in more counties in the continent, adding: “it is an honour to have been invited to participate in this summit, and deals have already been signed by the UK government and other African nations, with the aim of boosting jobs and growth in the future.”
He warned veering off from key agendas and take-aways from the summit, such as improving the livelihood of the people as well as creation of job for the young population while anchoring the drive on technology, would defeat the purpose of the high-level summit.
“Empowering the youth in Africa through creation of jobs will be the best way to spur economic growth in the continent,” Duale noted.
“THE 2nd SCRAMBLE FOR AFRICA”
In the last 18 months, major global economies and political powers such as Japan, China, Russia, US and France have already held similar investment summits in what some experts say is the second scramble for Africa resources.
UK aid policy these days is focused on promoting UK trade interests abroad, with the government adopting a global business promotion approach for UK firms.
The linking of aid and trade of course has a history in Britain. In 1994 the Pergau dam scandal – in which aid was used as a sweetener for an arms deal – led to the commitment to untie aid. It also led to the establishment of a separate development department and an Act of Parliament specifying how aid must be spent.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson made the case for bigger investments in Africa and called for increased and renewed partnership between the United Kingdom and Africa.
Referring to Africa as a booming continent with “staggering levels of growth,” Johnson said: “Look around the world today and you will swiftly see that the UK is not only the obvious partner of choice, we’re also very much the partner of today, of tomorrow and decades to come.”
The UK-Africa Investment Summit, the first of its kind hosted by the UK government, was attended by the British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, International Development Secretary, Alok Sharma, and Prince Harry.