Midcom Group founder Anand Kapoor reveals why he headquarters his Pan-African conglomerate in Dubai.
(L-R) Moderator: Eithne Treanor, Managing Director, E Treanor Media, Rt. Hon. Ruhakana Rugunda, Prime Minister, Uganda, Dr. Cheick Modibo Diarra, Former Transitional Prime Minister, Republic of Mali, and Anand Kapoor, Founder and Vice-chairman, Midcom Group, UAE, during the panel session ‘Filling the Skills Gap – Developing Africa’s 21st Century Workforce’ at Business Global Forum Africa 2015 at Atlantis The Palm, Dubai.
Dubai: Its role as a transport hub and a dedication to African relations makes Dubai a solid base for businesses engaged in several African countries, said Dubai-based businessman Anand Kapoor, founder of Midcom Group.
Kapoor, who appeared on a panel at the Africa Gulf Business Forum on Wednesday on filling the skills gap, said he had begun his career in Uganda but moved the headquarters of his company, Midcom Group, to Dubai 12 years ago to take advantage of its connections across Africa.
Midcom has an annual turnover of $1.5 billion, with interests in multiple sectors (including telecoms, food processing, education and electronics among others) in West and East Africa.
“sub-Saharan Africa became my natural strength,” he said. “Eventually, because I could spread into 16, 17 countries, Dubai became a natural choice to move around. This is why I work closely with the [Dubai] Chamber of Commerce in promoting how Dubai’s geographical advantage and the infrastructure can be used to bring prosperity to both continents.
“Just the manpower — quality manpower has to move into many countries. Where can I station myself to move across [Africa]?”
Kapoor said Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, particularly the UAE, had put a lot of work into ties with African nations. “There is a lot of interaction now happening. There is a continent which is very rich in the things of which there is a deficit here. It’s a natural choice; that integration will eventually help.”
African countries are now focusing on long-term growth and putting policies in place to support that, according to Kapoor. “I have seen this shift in 20 years in Africa. And in the next 10 to 15 years I can see that we are now shifting from trade to value addition all over. Dubai is going to play a very central role. You see, we are 58 different countries, so the geographic advantage and the traditional openness of Dubai, the efficiency it as created … Dubai is the place of choice for senior people to call home,” he said.
One of the problems Midcom has found in Africa is recruiting local people with the right skill set. “We have a manufacturing facility in partnership with Samsung in Nigeria where I want my factory head to be a local Nigerian. However this isn’t the case right now because the skills are not available in the local population, so we’re investing in training to build the workforce we need locally,” Kapoor said.
To help ensure students have the practical skills his business needs, he said, he has created a scheme to encourage entrepreneurial thinking, providing $10,000 each to groups of four or five students who are expected to use their academic skills to develop business ideas.
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