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Africa 'next big ICT investment opportunity'

Dubai, October 15, 2012

Africa is set become one of the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) investment opportunities of the decade, according to leading industry experts.

Keen to explore this emerging market and promote its significant ICT opportunities for global and Middle East-based companies, Gitex is putting spotlight on the continent.

This year, Gitex has seen a 23 per cent 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 Gitex as the ideal opportunity to foster business links between Middle East and African companies," said Chihab Bargaoui, Business Development and Relationship Manager with Sfax International Fair Association, a part government-backed exhibition organiser in Tunisia.

"Now, given the new geopolitical situation, countries like Tunisia, Morocco and Egypt are looking for new markets and new opportunities, and Dubai is now the most important place to look for partners and promote events and products. For us, and our delegates, Gitex is where we will find what we’re looking for in the ICT sector," he noted.

Gitex’s “Africa in Focus” highlight comes at a time when significant 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, which features the largest African population, as well as notable natural resources such as gold and oil to aid its growth.

Africa’s ICT sector has flourished in recent years and is predicted by IT market intelligence specialists International Data Corporation (IDC) to grow nearly 13 per cent 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 re-exports from Dubai to South Africa alone valued at $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.

Research by the Arab Advisors Group indicates that a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 14 per cent 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.

The total shared increase equates to around 121 million new subscriptions in the regions. Total cellular revenue, which reached $9 billion in 2011, is expected to grow at a 10 per cent CAGR.

Underpinning this encouraging trend, the International Monetary Fund predicts Sub-Saharan Africa’s economy to grow by 5.5 per cent in 2012, owing in part to a fast-growing and brand-savvy middle class.

Meanwhile, The African Development Bank estimates that 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 per cent 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, the director, Direct Communications & Customer Care (DCCC) Group, Panasonic Marketing Middle East & Africa, said: "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."

"Exhibitions like Gitex bring to the forefront the progress that is taking place across Africa and Panasonic, a global leader in the development and manufacture of electronic products for a wide range of consumer, business, and industrial needs is keen to facilitate this growth," he added.

Trixee Loh, SVP, Dubai World Trade Centre, the organiser of Gitex, said Africa is seeing a tremendous shift towards 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," he noted.-TradeArabia News Service




Tags: Dubai | Africa | research | Gitex | technology | ICT |

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