Sunday, December 13, 2009

Arabs push for their share in scramble for Africa’s business

In Summary

  • Firms say they will take advantage of huge projects being set up on continent

Arab companies plan to expand their consultancy business in Africa with a view to reaping from the current accelerated implementation of huge multi-billion infrastructural projects.

Consultancy firms from the Arab world who have been meeting their counterparts in Africa in Nairobi, resolved late Thursday to take advantage of the current infrastructural business in the African region a year after the emergence of the global financial crisis.

The companies were meeting under the umbrella of Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa (Badea).

They said their interest is to participate in technology transfer and assist in enabling African governments explore as well as exploit huge opportunities in various sectors of the economy, for instance, the energy, tourism, environment and social sectors.

Form federation

During the three-day forum, the professionals set up Federation of African and Arab Consultants to assist in exploiting the huge business potential in the region.

“We have decided to form the Federation of African and Arab Consulting Firms to push our cause. We want to take advantage of the infrastructural development in the two regions. Infrastructure was one of the sectors that was not hit by the global economic recession,” Mr Moncef Ziani, the newly elected Federation of African and Arab Consultants president told journalists.

He will be assisted by six vice-presidents from other Africa countries. Mr Ziani said the forum resolved to have Nairobi act as the temporary office pending resolution by the executive committee.

Mr Ziani, the general manager of CID Engineering and Development Consultants in Morocco, said Badea would take a leading role in funding agriculture and infrastructural developments in Africa.

He said the Arab bank was willing to invest in projects that would enable African countries gain self-sufficiency in food through increased agricultural investments.

Mr Ziani said the bank and the federation should act as an institution to anchor cooperation between African and Arab states in joint infrastructure projects.

The forum, whose aim is to encourage greater cooperation between Arab and African consulting firms, is a continuation of the first and second fora, which were held in Cairo (June 2007) and Tunis (November 2008), with the aim of reaching an effective partnership between African and Arab consulting firms.

Current enthusiasm

“We are particularly interested in enhancing our consultancy business following the current enthusiasm by African governments to improve the infrastructure sector with the view of taming the effects of the global credit crunch crisis,” said Mr Ziani.

He said the Arab countries partnering with their counterparts in Africa will necessitate production of quality services and more so at a time like this when the world is facing serious challenges key among them global warming and economic recession.

“Our key mission is to mobilise synergy in consultancy and exploit the much endowed potential in Africa and its environs,” he added.

Ministry of Finance permanent secretary, Joseph Kinyua, who closed the two-day meeting, commended the formation of the new consultancy institution saying it would assist in the process of developing projects, contracting, supervising engineering works and undertaking technology and financial feasibility studies.

“The successful implementation of projects entirely depends on the professionalism and competence of the consulting firms,” he said.

Joint venture

Mr Kinyua also called for more Arab investments in Kenya and hailed the Arab Bank for its investments in the country.

He said that the new partnership will facilitate transfer of knowledge and technology among the Afro-Arab consultancy firms and earn the development experiences for the benefit of African and Arab experts.

The PS said the joint venture will create a leeway for local consultancy firms to seek business from the Arab region and thus gain the much needed modern standards.

In Kenya, Mr Kinyua said, consultancy business accounts for about 1 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product, adding that the low uptake is further necessitated by a lack of competent capacity to undertake the issues at hand.

Over 40 consulting firms from over 30 Arab and African countries attended the two-day forum that was held within the framework of Badea’s objectives. They are to develop and strengthen Afro-Arab co-operation through actively involving the economic and financial stakeholders in fostering co-operation between both regions. (Suna)

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