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UAE urged to invest in sub-Saharan Africa through partnerships

Ephraim Inoni (SUPPLIED)

By Karen Remo-Listana

Top government officials of the sub-Saharan Africa region have urged the Arab World, particularly the UAE, to invest in the mostly poverty-stricken continent.

Ephraim Inoni, Prime Minister of Cameroon, and Bethuel Pakalita Mosisili, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Lesotho, appealed for financial assistance in the form of investments and loans for their countries.

"We want investments from Dubai, the UAE, and other GCC states," Mosisili told Emirates Business on the sidelines of the Commonwealth in Dubai Summit. "Considering the miracle that Dubai has experienced, its accessibility and resource base, it is a good place as a source of investment. We are here to say we are ready for partnership."

Mosisili said Lesotho's economic development has been hampered by poor infrastructure and limited foreign investments.

He said only 38 per cent of the population had access to electricity and transportation infrastructure, while there is only about 34 per cent of road infrastructure. "Because there is lack of financial resources, there are no budgets for new infrastructure and for the maintenance or rehabilitation of existing facilities," he said.

Inoni said while Cam-eroon has plenty of raw materials, it lacks the technology to maximise the use of these resources. The partnership between the developed countries and Cameroon has been insufficient, he added. He said there are "right incentives" and "good opportunities" in his country.

Tom Volpe, Group CEO of Dubai Group, said they are interested in investing in the continent. "We are definitely interested in Africa," he said.

"We're learning more about Africa and South Saharan Africa. We've always invested in North Africa and we have invested to learn more about sub-Saharan Africa. We have some people in Cameroon. We are educating ourselves on the economy. Right now no investments are imminent, but sub-Saharan Africa is interesting to us. We are looking at financial services – commercial banking and consumer finance – so anything that we do will be related to that," he added.

Sub-Saharan Africa is a term used to describe the area that lies south of the Sahara. It contrasts with North Africa, which is part of the Arab World. Generally, sub-Saharan Africa is the poorest region in the world.