The Singapore Connection
Leading up to the Africa Singapore Business Forum, Brendon Jones from Adansonia Holdings spoke to Rahul Ghosh, an emerging markets specialist from Enterprise Singapore based in Nairobi, about strengthening business ties between Southeast Asia and Africa.
Adansonia Holdings: What is Enterprise Singapore?
Rahul Ghosh: We’re a government agency, under the Ministry of Trade and Industry. Our primary mandates are enterprise development and growing Singapore as a global hub for trading companies and startups. We help Singaporean companies build their capabilities, develop innovation capacity, make them fit-for-purpose and take their offering overseas. Singapore is a small nation of only 5,5 million people. Our goal is to assist Singaporean companies to become localised in big markets like Africa, and ultimately turn them into global corporates.
We have 36 offices around the world, in many cities in Asia (especially China), as well as in India and greater Southeast Asia. There are also three offices in Africa: Ghana, South Africa and Kenya.
AH: You are mandated to assist Singaporean companies expand into Africa, but you also help African companies link up with Singapore?
RG: Absolutely. We highlight trends and potential areas where African corporates can plug into Asian opportunity. Singapore is an amazing gateway, both in terms of geography and because it’s a neutral, well-connected nation.
Some African corporates have moved certain functions to Singapore. In fact, there’s a growing number of corporates in Africa seeking assistance at this level. They describe a problem they’re experiencing and we look at what we have available in Singapore – maybe corral two or three companies there to assist the African company with a quick solution.
The manufacturing sector is a case in point. How do we get more African companies to take ownership of the manufacturing process on their continent? There’s plenty of focus at government level on that problem. Singapore has a wealth of manufacturing service companies – in agri processing and other sectors. These companies can quickly assist an African company, maybe a trader, gear their offering into the manufacturing sector. That kind of intervention makes a real impact.
AH: Which other industries are key growth areas?
RG: Sustainability and smart cities – Singapore is a leader in efficient building technology. We also have expert companies involved in digital and we can help accelerate adoption in emerging markets like Africa: fintech, healthtech, retailtech…
Historically, Singapore has always been a hub for oil and gas corporations. Everyone is going green, but Africa still has lots of fossil fuel potential, in the west and increasingly in the east. Mozambique and Tanzania, for example, are becoming the natural gas hubs of the future. There is so much expertise in the field in Singapore, we are excited to bring our experts in to partner with African companies.
AH: Tell us about the Africa Singapore Business Forum.
RG: It’s the sixth edition and fully virtual to enable as many people as possible to participate. Registration is free. The Forum is a business platform that brings corporates from Africa, Singapore and the greater Asian region together, to discuss potential for synergy in the fields of sustainability, manufacturing, digital and other sectors. African governments will also be given a chance to showcase some of their projects and make direct pitches to potential investors.
When it comes to B2B opportunities, we’ve invested in technology to connect all the participants. The Forum is always a good place to make new connections.
The event programme for the 2021 Africa Singapore Business Forum will run from 23 – 24 August, while the business matching sessions will run concurrently from 23 August – 24 September. Registration is free. Click here to find out more.
Click here to tune into Enterprise Singapore’s highly informative webinar series.
This interview was part of a longer conversation that Brendon Jones had with Rahul Ghosh and corporate advisor Ranveer Chauhan, for Episode 13 of the Invest Africa podcast. Listen here and subscribe.