Dubai Week in Africa 2021 virtual expo discusses critical importance of e-commerce

DUBAI, The Third day of Dubai Week in Africa virtual conference took place on Wednesday featuring vibrant debates on the critical importance of e-commerce and government regulation in boosting bilateral trade between the UAE and Africa.

Today’s event was graced by Abdulla Al Saleh, Under-Secretary, and Ministry of Economy UAE, Joseph Mucheru, Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of ICT, Innovation and Youth Affairs, Republic of Kenya, and Mohsen Ahmad, Chief Executive Officer, Logistics District, Dubai South.

Dubai Week in Africa is a unique virtual trade mission designed by the UAE Trade Centre that is taking place from 15th to 18th February, seeking to build resilient trade relations between the UAE and Kenya by hosting inspiring panel discussions on vibrant business segments like Export and Trade, Free zone and Investment, e-commerce and the Islamic economy.

“The UAE is the most developed e-commerce market in the MENA region and advanced logistics infrastructure, availability of bank accounts and government policies that support innovation have all contributed to driving the growth of e-commerce in the UAE,” Al Saleh said.

“It was our digital preparedness that enabled the UAE to smoothly transition to remote work and learning systems when the pandemic struck. No doubt, the digital economy has proven its efficiency with the world’s dependence on it during the current pandemic. It has a big role in organising the movement of supply chains locally and internationally,” he added.

Ahmad encouraged participants to the use the Dubai Week in Africa platform to continue sharing thoughts and discovering new ideas on how to boost UAE-Africa bilateral trade.

“Having a forum like we have today (Dubai Week in Africa) to share our thoughts on how our two great countries which share the same vision of digital economy-how do we build bridges together,” he urged.

While delivering opening remarks, the Kenyan Minister of ICT took the opportunity to challenge the traditional definition of e-Commerce and stimulate Kenyan and African businesses to grow their operations through technology.

“What defines the e-commerce sector? The World Economic Forum estimated that about 264 e-Commerce start-ups were operational in African countries actively running in 22 countries. In my opinion, if we were to aggregate the business that is carried out across social media platforms such as WhatsApp, Google, Facebook and Instagram, the number of e-commerce start-ups would be in their thousands,” Mucheru said.

After the opening remarks, today’s event progressed into a vibrant panel discussion that featured business leaders from e-commerce start-ups, agricultural companies and logistics giants involved in different parts of the global supply chain.

“In Dubai, Kenyan pineapples have a premium compared with any other pineapples across the market. Retailers across the Middle-East are asking for Kenyan products because of the soil and weather in Kenya. This is where digitisation of the supply chain is important, ensuring consumers get the fruit at the perfect ripeness,” explained Mohammad Hassan Abbas, Senior Vice President: Asia Pacific Middle East and North Africa, Fresh Del Monte Produce Inc.

Kenyan companies spoke of the trade barriers they encounter in cross-border trade leading to fruitful discussions and ideas on possible future solutions.

“Traditionally customs in Kenya and East Africa are focusing more on revenue collection instead of trade facilitation. If you are importing a huge shipment from Dubai, customs already have frameworks to enable you to move the cargo quickly into Mombasa. But if a young person is importing a shipment worth $200, the importer will be subjected to the same regime like a huge shipment,” explained Meshack Kipturgo, Managing Director, Siginon Group, while speaking during a panel session.

Mahmood Al Bastaki, Chief Operation Officer, DT World/ Dubai, took the chance to inform African governments and companies of the expertise held by the UAE with regards to customs and trade solutions.

“Customs is always the most difficult entity most traders are faced with. We have customs solutions for countries who want to automate their revenues and customs solutions. We tackle the main problems that 90 percent of traders around the world face,” Al Bastaki said.

The Kenyan government warmly received the proposal by Al Bastaki to introduce customs and trade solutions in Kenya.

“What is holding them (UAE- DT World) from coming to Kenya? I have my pen here ready for signing,” Mucheru said.

“We are honoured to receive this invitation and right after this, we will start the process with Kenya. I like the spirit of “the pen is ready” and we are ready,” Al Bastaki replied.

Such conversations highlighted the unique importance of Dubai Week in Africa as a platform.

“I believe in Africa. The good thing is that we have government and semi-government and private sector sitting at the table. These initiatives that have been brought forward are really good,” said Walid Hareb AlFalahi, CEO of the UAE Trade Centre, and the key organiser of Dubai Week in Africa.

After the launch, the event programme proceeded to scheduled Business to Business (B2B) meetings with Kenyan businesses that had been identified as having the potential to learn from leading companies from Dubai.


Source: Emirates News Agency

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