Singapore is looking at deepening its economic ties with Nigeria and other West African countries as its enterprises promise to increase investments in key sectors in the region. Regional Director, West and Central Africa Enterprise Singapore, the Asian country’s agency championing overseas business relations, Jean Ng, said her country is genuinely interested in sustaining its relationship with West Africa.
Ng, who was joined by Managing Director of Tolaram Group, Haresh Aswani; Chief Executive Officer of KaHa Pte Ltd, Pawan Gandhi; Director of NIVESAL, Saikat Chowdhury among others, said Singaporean companies would continue to explore opportunities for new lines of business while expanding existing investments.
The team held a session ahead of Africa Singapore Business Forum 2021 holding August 23 to 24 tagged ‘Leapfrogging the World: Innovation and Sustainability in Africa’. Ng said the forum was in line with Singapore Enterprise’s mandate of helping “local enterprises build capabilities and capture new opportunities across sectors and markets to be globally competitive”. The organisation has 36 offices across the globe charged with the responsibility of working with companies of Singapore’s origin to harness opportunities and build a competitive edge.
According to Ng, Singapore has grown its interest in Africa in the past years, emerging among the top 10 trading partners with the continent. She said its investment value in the continent has also expanded by 7.6 per cent in the past five years. Singapore-Africa relations, she said, has deepened so much that people see Nigeria as centre for Africa-related businesses.
She described the forthcoming forum as a platform for cementing the relationship between the two parties, stressing that the continent has “huge growth potential”. She added that Enterprise would continue to engage Africa and Singaporean companies on mutual interests. She listed future urbanisation, smart city development, green financing, and infrastructure development as some of the new areas Singaporean companies could leverage to support African development.
Aswani said there was a need to build local skills and capacity to reduce importation and create jobs. He said there was much Nigeria could gain from Singaporean companies in this regard, noting that the difficult business environment as regards Nigeria is exaggerated. “There is a perception issue. But once you are there, in my opinion, it is a great country to do business with,” the Tolaram chief executive said, adding that infrastructure development has a huge opportunity for partnership.