Qatar is seeking to extend its trade ties with Africa.
Ahead of the 2022 World Cup which will be hosted for the first time in Middle East, Qatar officials are now stepping up their efforts to penetrate the continent.
The rich middle East country has so far allocated in excess of a $1.5 billion to countries in Africa in various trade deals and has launched Qatar free zones as it prepares to turn Doha city into a Middle East economic hub.
Port Hamad has also been upgraded and is expected to handle more than7.5 million tonnes of cargo per annum while Hamad International Airport which handles 30 million passengers annually has also been upgraded to cater for an additional 15,000 passengers.
Qatar Airways has opened more than 160 destinations across the globe.
Mr Ali bin Ahmed Al Kuwari, Qatar’s Commerce and Industry Minister emphasised this view this week when he met a group of journalists in Doha.
The journalists were drawn from Kenya, Ethiopia, South Africa, Cameroon, Nigeria, Ghana and Senegal.
“Qatar is ready to partner with Comesa countries and Africa in general because we believe it is a worthy business partner and we shall explore all the bilateral trade avenues to increase the trade and benefits the citizens of the countries involved,” said Mr Al Kuwari.
He said Qatar was interested in doing trade with African countries as it is recording the highest economy growth.
“We see opportunities coming from Africa as huge and we have invested in the banking, mining and oil exploration in East Africa and South Africa,” he said.
He said the Qatar Investment Authority was exploring trading sectors in Africa and has so far talked to industry captains in tourism, agriculture and direct investment such as security.
The minister cited the huge port investment Qatar is planning to do at several ports in Ethiopia, infrastructure projects companies in Kenya and South Africa and upgrading international airports in Accra, Ghana.
He said the trade relationship between Qatar and Kenya has improved by 23 per cent. However, the trade deficit between the two countries is still in favour of Qatar.
“We are looking at opportunities where we can improve the imports and Kenya is a highly potential business partner and many investment private companies from Qatar will be visiting the country to explore the opportunities,” said Mr Al Kuwari.
He said since Qatar is shifting the way of doing business within and outside its borders and was putting more efforts in private sector.
“We have over relied on public sector investment but we are now shifting our gears to private sector investments,” said Mr Al Kuwari.
He said private investors in Qatar had already identified areas such as hospitality, agriculture and tourism where they want to invest in East Africa with Kenya being one of their preferred destination.