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GCC-Africa business opportunities growing

Gulf Daily News | Tuesday 2nd December 2008

INVESTMENT opportunities between Africa and the GCC are ripe for the picking, says a top government official.

Africa and the GCC have a lot to offer each other, said Industry and Commerce Ministry Under-Secretary Dr Abdulla Mansoor on behalf of Minister Dr Hassan Fakhro.

Dr Mansoor said there was an excellent fit and synergy between the GCC and Africa with its variety of natural resources, agriculture and manpower.

He said there was a growing interest from GCC companies, including Bahrain in investing in Africa.

However, at the moment investment inflows in Africa were confined to natural resources, particularly because of the rising prices of raw materials such as aluminium and iron.

Dr Mansoor said particularly over the past year with the soaring world prices of rice and other commodities net food importing countries such as Bahrain were looking for alternative supply sources to their traditional markets.

These countries, he said, were looking for investment opportunities in countries which did not share the same geographical limitations of shortages of land and water and climate issues.

"At the same time there is a need to look at investment holistically," said Dr Mansoor.

"The potential of many African countries to achieve significant development in agricultural and other commodity production, will turn as much on investing in infrastructure as it will on the development of new production facilities."

Dr Mansoor said there was a need for African countries to do more to raise their brand image in the GCC because too often African products and services did not get the recognition for the quality that they deserved.

He said if African countries raised the profile of their products they could position themselves as suppliers of choice to the GCC in a number of areas.

On another note Dr Mansoor said Bahrain welcomed African interest in investment opportunities both here and in the region and the wider Middle East from a base in Bahrain.

"I believe that such investments would of themselves provide a valuable contribution in terms of expanding the markets and diversification of African companies," he said.

"We have a lot to offer each other, a sizeable portion of our manpower pool is foreign and we welcome and respect foreigners for the skills set and work ethic that they bring.

Synergy

"We offer a cosmopolitan, secure and tax-free environment, with a high standard of living yet at a reasonable cost compared to some other countries in the region, and with no exchange control.

"Companies wishing to set up in Bahrain will find that our incorporation process is transparent and can be accomplished normally within just a few days, often within hours, and the Ministry of Industry and Commerce will help them every step of the way.

"At a high level co-operation is between countries or trading blocs, but the real business, which drives economic development is not between governments but between people, the professionals, artisans and companies that grow or produce merchandise or services that are traded in both domestic and world markets."

Dr Mansoor was one of the keynote speakers at a three-day economic and investment forum, which opened at the Ritz-Carlton Bahrain Hotel and Spa yesterday.

Participants include Arab Businesswomen's Council chairwoman Dr Shaikha Hessa bint Saad Al Sabah and UAE Foreign Trade Minister Shaikha Lubna bint Khalid Al Qasimi.

Those from the African continent include the First Lady of the Republic of Mozambique Maria da Luz Guebuza, Uganda First Deputy Premier and East African Community Affairs Minister Eriya Kategaya, several African ministers and secretary-generals of regional African organisations among others.

Several key business personalities from Bahrain's private sector and senior-level governmental and corporate representatives from the GCC are also taking part.

Zain is the platinum sponsor and other sponsors include Baytik Industrial Investments.

Who's involved?

Who's involved?


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