Expo 2020 in Dubai: What Benefits to Africa?
As countries plan to showcase their potential at the Dubai Expo 2020, the show promises to be an invaluable platform for all African nations to strengthen not only their relationship with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) but with the rest of the world.
The Expo, the first to be held in the Middle East, will hold within the Dubai South District on a site that is 4.38 square kilometres.
It is close to Al Maktoum International Airport and easily reached from Dubai International Airport, Abu Dhabi International Airport and Dubai, Abu Dhabi Cruise Terminals.
Approximately 2 square kilometres will form the Expo gate area, while the remaining 2.4 square kilometres will feature supporting amenities, including the Expo 2020 Village for participants and staff accommodation, warehousing, logistics, transport nodes, hotels, retail and a public park.
The Expo 2020 Dubai coincides with the UAE’s 50th anniversary in 2021, marking an important milestone for the UAE. Over the past 50 years, the UAE has impressed the world with its rapid growth and amazing achievements.
The Dubai Expo 2020 wants to motivate people to carry that innovative spirit forward for another 50 years.
With 25 million visits expected, Expo 2020 will create millions of opportunities for positive change, as nations come together to
solve some of the biggest challenges facing us all.
The people attending will come from all over the world, with 70 per cent expected to be international visitors, the highest proportion in World Expo history. 30,000 UAE resident volunteers from a range of nationalities and backgrounds will ensure visitors have the time of their lives – returning again and again.
By participating, African businesses have a chance to join a community of Expo’s buyer and supplier network. Africa’s non-oil trade with Dubai has been growing steadily over the last decade, accounting for 10.5 per cent of the emirate’s total non-oil foreign trade in 2018.
According to UAE Federal Customs Authority data, for the first half of 2018, non-oil foreign trade volume with the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region amounted for AED 138.6 billion; trade with East and Southern Africa totalled AED 28.9 billion; and trade with West and Central Africa AED 27.8 billion.
The organisers of the World’s Greatest Show, said that majority of countries in Africa had publicly announced their participation, adding that each participating country, regardless of size, population, wealth or perceived influence, will have its own pavilion at the Expo.
Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Guinea, Lesotho, Liberia, Senegal,
Sierra Leone, Somalia and Togo are among Africa countries that have already confirmed their participation in the Expo.
Nigeria has the highest population in Africa and is a traditional trade partner for UAE with non-oil trade between the two countries
amounting to 1.3 billion dollars in 2016.
Mr Mohammed Dansanta Rimi, Nigeria’s Ambassador to the UAE had since delivered a letter to Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman of the Expo 2020 Dubai Higher Committee, confirming Nigeria’s participation in the Expo.
The Ambassador said: “We want to show the world how we are working to improve the lives of our youth and people, while opening up our economy and encouraging foreign investment – and the Expo will be the ideal platform for us to do so.’’
Al-Maktoum, confirming Nigeria’s participation in the Expo said: “People and innovation are at the heart of World Expos, which is why we are delighted to welcome Nigeria’s participation.
“Expo 2020 will be the first World Expo to be held in the developing world, and will be for the developing world; so, we look forward to working with Nigeria and other confirmed African countries on our journey to 2020.’’
Similarly, Mr Reem Ibrahim Al Hashimi, Minister of State for International Cooperation and Director-General of the Expo added: “As director-general of Expo 2020, I have no doubt to say that the Expo will offer an opportunity to take our relationships (with Africa) to new heights.
“Our Expo visitors are expected to be primarily international coming from all over the world – including Africa.
“Almost all African nations have confirmed their participation and we are working closely with them to curate and programme exhibitions that are meaningful to contribute at all levels.’’
But, according to the organisers, no fewer than 192 countries have confirmed participation, as well as companies, non-governmental
organisations, businesses and educational institutions.
The organisers, who spoke recently to some selected African journalists in Dubai, said that the six months celebration of human
brilliance and achievement will inspire everyone to create a better future for all.
According to them, Africa and South Asia (MEASA), African countries and everything they have to offer will be accessible to the
whole world in new and unexpected ways.
“From discovering what the future holds for the world’s youngest country, South Sudan, and tasting Ethiopia’s next big super-grain, to investing in Kenya’s croton nuts, energy industry, learning about Nigeria’s Economic Recovery Growth Plan 2017-2020, and preserving the continent’s intangible cultural heritage, there will be no barriers to connecting minds at Expo 2020 Dubai.
The Expo 2020, a once-in-lifetime experience, they added will be a time to create and renew connections and deepen through 2020 and beyond, a time to be awed by the spectacular events programme, and a time to do business.
“The show which will open to the world between October 20, 2020 and April 10, 2021, will also move away from traditional geographical clusters and band together countries facing similar challenges and will focus on `Opportunity, Mobility and Sustainability’, which is the sub-theme of the Expo.
“This involve ensuring jobs, education and healthcare for all; easy and equitable access to transport and ideas; and balancing development with preserving the environment for future generations.
The sub-themes also form part of commitment to advancing the 2020 Global Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs),’’ they said.
“The African Union (AU) has been identified as a body that will play a critical role in promoting Africa’s growth and development at the forthcoming Expo, with the AU already embodying Expo 2020’s theme: ‘Connecting Minds, Creating the future’, will showcase to the world the power of collaboration in building a more prosperous and integrated Africa.
“Already, with a collective effort of the 55 AU member states to implement Agenda 2063 – a blueprint for delivering Africa’s goal for
inclusive and sustainable development, also involves addressing issues in agriculture, transport, science and technology, health,
information and communication technology, as well as those relating to legal and financial matters.’’
It said that among the 25 projects selected in Expo 2020’s Global Best Practice Programme, 15 have a direct impact on some of the biggest challenges facing Africa, noting that Africa and the UAE had enjoyed a long friendship, steeped in a shared culture and trade ties that date back centuries, and which still define their mutually respectful relationship.
Analysts believe that Africa is the future of global economic growth. And while other continents see slow to negative growth in their economies, Africa countries’ economies are growing at double digit level.
So, African participation in Expo 2020 is seen as an important element for the success of the mega event.
By Edwin Nwachukwu, News Agency of Nigeria