The Annual Investment Meeting successfully concluded AIM AFRICA Digital Edition which took place from the 29th – 30th of June 2021 via Events10x platform under the theme “Africa Unlocked: Innovation and Sustainability as the Drivers of Economic Growth”. The two-day virtual conference witnessed the participation of 101 expert speakers, 2092 participants from 99 countries, with 41 countries from Africa and over 47 global exhibitors.
Top government officials and high-level dignitaries also joined AIM AFRICA and among them was H.E Sheikh Shakhboot Nahyan Al Nahyan – Cabinet Member and Minister of State in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of The United Arab Emirates and H.E. Amb. Mariam Yalwaji Katagum Minister of State, Federal Ministry of Industry Trade and Investment, The Federal Republic of Nigeria.
In his welcome speech, His Excellency Sheikh Shakhboot Nahyan Al Nahyan said, “It is an honour to speak at the Annual Investment Meeting, to discuss economic partnership between UAE and Africa, and exploring ways of further advancing economic relations with our partners across Africa. It is my hope that our partnership is set in cooperation between the public and private sectors, in order to generate new avenues of collaboration.
Expounding on the future plans of the UAE for the economy, His Excellency Sheikh Shakhboot Nahyan Al Nahyan said: “We in the UAE, aim to achieve progress in all fields, in cooperation with our African brothers and sisters, and we share a vision of boosting prosperity for our people and creating opportunities for future generations. Despite the challenges, our world has faced recently from COVID 19 pandemic, to economic diversification and climate change. We are determined to find joined solutions. The UAE will achieve this in part by capitalizing upon its strategic location, infrastructure, logistics and knowledge of the region to support trade and investment in the African continent.”
He added: “Africa is the UAE’s largest recipient of funding, receiving around USD 16.4 Billion between 2015 and 2019, and hosts over 160 companies in sub-Saharan Africa. In April, DP World launched DUBUY.com in Rwanda, after partnering with local businesses and the Rwandan government to help African businesses unlock access to global markets. We in the UAE invite our counterparts throughout Africa, to visit the UAE to explore positive opportunities for economic exchange, investment and entrepreneurship. The UAE looks forward to establishing additional partnerships of this nature with our African friends.”
High-level speakers that joined the conference include H.E Wamkele Mene, Secretary General of the African Continental Free Trade Area and Ahunna Eziakonwa, Assistant Secretary-General, Assistant Administrator and Director of the Regional Bureau for Africa United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) who delivered the opening address for AIM AFRICA Day 2.
Mario Pezzini, Director, OECD Development Centre, Special Advisor, OECD Secretary-General on Development gave an expert overview on Africa’s Economic Response to COVID Crisis in which he mentioned that “The engine of growth before the crisis of Covid were not in developed countries but they were mainly in Asia and Africa. He concluded that, without the growth that Africa represents there will not be a recovery for the globe hence we all need to be involved in Africa.
UNCTAD’s Director of the Investment and Enterprise Division, James Zhan, also participated in the event and shared African insights from the World Investment Forum 2021 Report. He stated: “The global COVID 19 pandemic caused lockdowns around the world, slowing down existing investments and the expectation of economic recession led multinational corporations to reconsider new projects at the time. Similarly, FDI flows in Africa were significantly affected by the covid 19 pandemic in Africa. There was a decline in FDI flows to Africa of 16% in 2020, as from 47 billion USD to 40 billion USD.
However, Africa is still being promoted as an investment destination by major countries. A particular focus is on infrastructure and FDI will increase in Africa due to a number of factors that look promising now. Our outlook for 2022 is more optimistic, as FDI flows will be back at the levels of 2019”. He also added that: “FDI in developing economies declined by only 8%, mainly due to the robust flow of FDI to Asia. As a result, developing economies now account for two-thirds of global FDI, up from just under half in 2019”.
United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) led twos sessions during day 2 of AIM AFRICA. The first session analyzed various ways of boosting Intra-African investment flows, and providing solid frameworks that can strengthen the basis for investment policy aimed at attracting Intra-African investment. The second session which was an Investment Roundtable on Healthcare, showcased key policy recommendations from ECA Reports that advocate for health investments opportunities, prospects for job creation, cost savings and productivity gains and the market readiness to leverage on the AfCFTA for sustainable development in Africa.
Representatives of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) led a session titled The Opportunities Offered by the SADC to Attract Investment in the Region which helped to understand the investment and business opportunities in the SADC Region, how land-locked countries can become linked and SADC Success Stories.
In Country Presentations, participating countries such as The Republic of Zambia, The Republic of Sierra Leone, The United Republic of Tanzania and The Republic of Cameroon were given the opportunity to present the major features of their economic and investment environments to a global audience and promoted their countries as ideal investment destinations in order to increase foreign direct investments inflows and revive their economies.
Lastly, AIM AFRICA would not have been possible without the generous support of partners and sponsors. The Multilateral Partners Islamic Development Bank (IsDB), Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD) and IsDB Group Business Forum (THIQAH), Silver Sponsor Ajman Free Zone and the E-Commerce Partner DUBUY by DPWorld extended their backing to the event.
The event will be followed by AIM Special Edition at the World Investment Forum on the 18th of October 2021 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.