DUBAI—Nearly 10 years ago, when Keba Keinde set up an investment bank in Dubai, he used to travel from there to Paris, stay overnight and then get a connecting flight to Senegal—all just to get home. It would take up to 24 hours from door to door.
These days, he flies direct in about nine hours with Emirates Airline.
“Now I can leave here in the morning and be there by 5 p.m.,” said Mr. Keinde, the chairman and chief executive of Dubai-based Millennium Finance Corp.
Mr. Keinde is part of a wave Africans that have set up business in Dubai in the past decade to trade with the continent. And Dubai and its government-owned entities are now increasingly investing in African nations.
Trade between Africa and the Gulf city-state hit $22.8 billion last year, up from $2.5 billion in 2000, according to the Dubai Chamber of Commerce. Last month, sovereign-wealth fund Investment Corporation of Dubai, or ICD, said it was buying a minority stake in Nigeria’s Dangote Cement for $300 million, Dubai’s first major investment in Africa’s largest economy.
Emirates, the world’s largest carrier by international traffic, is usually the starting point for trade. The airline, which is owned by ICD, recently became the biggest carrier in sub-Saharan Africa, overtaking Air France AF.FR +3.59% as the main non-African airline into the continent. It now flies 198 flights a week to 22 destinations, and offers nearly 69,000 seats, according to Innovata LLC, an aviation-data firm.
Emirates flies from Cairo to Cape Town, Dakar to Dar es Salaam. And more routes are planned too.
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