VENTURES AFRICA – Asian tiger, Singapore, is looking to increase its investments in Africa, as the race for the continent’s promising long-term growth prospects intensify. The International Enterprise (IE) Singapore, the government agency driving Singapore’s external economy, is set to open a centre in Ghana as part of the country’s plans to help Singaporean firms increase investments in Africa.
The IE Singapore documents that about 48 Singapore companies have business interests in 42 African countries.
Today, the IE is also expected to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the International Finance Corporation (IFC), to facilitate closer business collaboration between Singapore and Africa.
Lim Ban Hoe, IE Singapore’s group director for Middle East & Africa, noted that the MOU would make it easier for Singaporean companies to expand into Africa.
“With 54 diverse countries, Africa is daunting for any company new to the market. IE Singapore’s partnership with IFC will help lower entry barriers and further Singapore’s track record in Africa. Their extensive developmental experience and networks can quicken the process of matching Singapore’s private sector expertise to specific projects in Africa.” said Ban Hoe.
Singapore’s trade with Africa has improved significantly in recent years and was valued at about S$13.8 billion ($10.9 billion) last year.
According to Singapore’s minister in the prime minister’s office and second minister for Home Affairs and Trade & Industry S Iswaran, the growing interests of Singapore companies in Africa would be beneficial to both parties.
“.. Africa promises to be one of those areas like Latin America where there is growth and therefore opportunities for our companies,” Iswaran told local media.
Singapore will particularly be looking to cash in on Africa’s growing urbanisation. Singapore, after all, has strengths in urban and industrial planning, transport, agribusiness and information communications technology.
“As they (Africa) develop and their urban centres grow, they need the kind of solutions that Singapore has been working on for many decades now. Whether it has to do with water treatment and supply, in the context of energy, in the context of infrastructure development, ports and airports, etc. I think there’s also significant interest in areas such as education, e-government and so on. Again, areas where Singapore has had some level of experience,” said Iswaran.
The IE Singapore is the main organiser of the ongoing Africa Singapore Business Forum, held in Singapore, which provides a platform for business and government leaders from Africa and Singapore to engage.
By Dinfin Mulupi, a business journalist based in Nairobi, Kenya.