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SBF and Enterprise Singapore Lead Business Delegation to East Africa in a Deepening of Bilateral and Commercial Relations

11 Jun 2018 [Singapore] - The Singapore Business Federation’s (SBF) Africa Business Group will leave this evening for its fourth business mission to the Republic of Kenya till 13 June, followed by its third visit to the Republic of Rwanda from 13 – 16 June.

Jointly organised with Enterprise Singapore, the mission is in conjunction with Deputy Prime Minister (DPM) Tharman Shanmugaratnam’s official visit to Kenya and Rwanda. The Kenya segment of the business mission is led by SBF Chairman Mr S.S. Teo, with Mr Eugene Wong, Chairman of CrimsonLogic Pte Ltd as Deputy Mission Leader. Mr Wong is the Mission Leader for the Rwanda segment, with Mr Ramesh Moochikal D., President & Regional Head – South & East Africa of Olam International Ltd as its Deputy Mission Leaders.

The 35-strong delegation from 20 companies largely hail from the info-communications technology; real estate and hospitality; construction and infrastructure-related services; shipping and logistics; agriculture and agribusiness; education; fintech solutions; manufacturing; fast moving consumer goods; and general trade sectors. Highlights of the business mission include: 

1. Launch of Enterprise Singapore’s Nairobi Overseas Centre

  • [Enterprise Singapore will be issuing a media release on the launch on 13 June 2018.]

2. Networking Session with High-Level Government Officials

  • Delegation members will have the opportunity to interact with DPM Tharman and the accompanying Singapore government delegation, as well as high-level government officials from both countries.
  • The networking sessions are intended for Singapore delegates to provide feedback on the business environment and market opportunities.

3. Sector-specific Meetings with Local Companies and Government Ministries
  • Meetings with government ministries and agencies such as the Ministry of Transport, Infrastructure, Housing and Urban Development; Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) Authority and the Ministry of Technology & Communication have been organised.
  • Delegates will also call on key representatives of conglomerates such as Centum Investment, Sameer Group, Bidco Africa which are owned by the richest individuals / families in Kenya, and Crystal Ventures, the investment holding company of Rwanda’s dominant political party, Rwandan Patriotic Front.
  • They will also meet with leading companies within the industries aligned to their interests, as with project financiers such as the International Finance Corporation.
4. Exploration of Third-Country Collaborations with Chinese Companies
  • Delegates will also meet with members of the Kenya Chinese Chamber of Commerce (KCCC), a trade lobby uniting the local Chinese business community. Chinese companies have a significant local presence in Kenya and are its largest investors, in part due to the country’s strategic position in China’s belt and road initiative.

 The East Africa region recorded the continent’s best economic performance in 2017, with GDP growth of 5.9 percent, above the average of 3.6 percent. This regional growth was led by the East Africa economies of Kenya, Rwanda and Ethiopia, and driven by private consumption and investment, and a growth in light manufacturing and agriculture.1 This is expected to be sustained, particularly with the recovery in global commodity prices and foreign investment and finance flows, coupled with the strong domestic demand from a rapidly growing middle class.

Mr S.S. Teo, Mission Leader, SBF Chairman, Executive Chairman and Managing Director of Pacific International Lines, said: “There is often the misperception of Africa being a big boy’s market, when in reality it is more SME-friendly. It is a huge market that offers an array of opportunities across various sectors and in varying sizes, which makes it ideal for SME entrants, given their more nimble structures. The Federation has seen Singapore SMEs successfully dabble across multiple sectors in these markets, due to the lower competition and barriers to entry. There are also certain industries such as manufacturing which are in more nascent stages of growth, and this is where past experiences and solutions from Singapore companies, which may be now less relevant in our context, can be exported.”

“As we deepen engagements, alternative partnerships should also be considered. Singapore companies have the distinct advantage of being multi-cultural and multi-ethnic. This makes us well-placed for third-country collaborations, especially when coupled with the Singapore brand name, and our unique development expertise and know-how.”

Mr Eugene Wong, Chairman of CrimsonLogic Pte Ltd and Mission Leader for the Rwanda segment, said, “Africa is a big growing market for Singapore companies which we should explore and capture. As a small economy we need markets that are growing fast and are eager to partner with Singapore. The Singapore Brand of good quality, reliability and integrity is much welcomed in Africa. CrimsonLogic has been in Africa since 1994, over the past 5 years, business activities has taken off and we now have a major presence in Rwanda with the opening of our Rwanda Office this month. We have come a long way since our first project implementation in Africa back in 1994, and have continued to grow our business footprint to more than 10 countries in order to meet the fast-growing opportunities in this region. One area that CrimsonLogic and Singapore companies can contribute and partner with Africa companies is in the area of Digital Solutions, Consumer Products as well as Logistics and Supply Chain. I hope that this trip will open up more opportunities for our Singapore companies to Kenya, Rwanda and the rest of Africa.”

Mr Ramesh Moochikal D., President & Regional Head – South & East Africa of Olam International Ltd and Deputy Mission Leader for Rwanda, said “Olam’s origins in Nigeria has now been translated to a strong Pan-Africa presence through significant community programmes, investments, financing and upskilling projects all in the agriculture and food sector. Our Pan-Africa presence is a result of our confidence in the improving business conditions and the untapped potential in Africa.”

To date, Singapore companies with a presence in East Africa span both larger companies and SMEs, and across a wider range of sectors, including construction and infrastructure-related services; food processing and manufacturing; shipping and logistics; info-communications technology; energy; consultancy; and general trade.

Companies involved in food, agriculture and agribusiness include Food Empire with engagements in food manufacturing and distribution; Azul World in poultry farming; Asiatic Agricultural Industries with crop protection solutions; and Olam International operating from seed to shelf. There are also Meinhardt and Surbana Jurong (via SMEC) in infrastructure and engineering, and Portek and Pacific International Lines in shipping. Kheng Keng Auto started off being involved in used car dealership / parts, and has since ventured into power and energy among other interests.

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