Singapore companies increase engagement of East Africa following significant investments in the region
- 25-strong business delegation accompanied Senior Minister of State Masagos Zulkifli on five-day mission to Nairobi and Dar es Salaam
- MOUs signed between Singapore business organisations and Kenyan counterparts to facilitate trade and investment in both countries
10 June 2014 [Singapore] - The Singapore Business Federation (SBF) and International Enterprise (IE) Singapore jointly organised a five-day business mission to Kenya and Tanzania from 2 - 6 June.
Led by Mr Teo Siong Seng, Vice Chairman of SBF and Tanzania's Honorary Consul to Singapore, the business mission was held in conjunction with the official visit of Senior Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and Home Affairs Mr Masagos Zulkifli's to the cities of Nairobi, Kenya, from 2 - 4 June and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, from 5 - 6 June.
The business mission, which is part of SBF's continued engagement with the East African region, consisted of 25 participants, representing 18 companies/organisations from various industry sectors including shipping, logistics, ports, water solutions, ICT, consumer electronics, general trading, construction equipment, and conference services. It marks the third time that SBF has brought a business delegation to visit the two countries in the last five years, and the second business mission to the Eastern Africa region this year.
While Africa's economy is expected to grow as a whole by 4.7% in 2014 and 5% in 2015, East Africa is expected to be a major driver of this growth, with a predicted 6.4% growth in 2014, buoyed by a growing middle-class, increased consumer spending, improved infrastructure investment, and new discoveries of oil and gas mineral resources. As a measure of increasing interest from Singapore companies in this region, Pavilion Energy, a subsidiary of Temasek Holdings, recently made its first ever acquisition in Africa with a US$1.3 billion stake in three gas blocks off the coast of Tanzania in November 2013.
Together with local partners Kenyan Private Sector Alliance, Tanzania Private Sector Foundation and Tanzania Investment Centre, SBF organised a Kenya-Singapore Business Seminar and Tanzania-Singapore Business Seminar in the respective countries to promote bilateral economic cooperation and trade and investment opportunities. Graced by Mr Masagos Zulkifli as Guest of Honour, the seminars were attended by some 70 local businessmen from each city.
At the seminar in Kenya, two Memorandums of Understanding (MOU) were signed between Singapore organisations and their counterparts. SBF and Kenyan Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA) inked the MOU to enhance trade and investment between the business communities of both sides through facilitation of direct exchange of information, business delegations, and the promotion of business opportunities. KEPSA also signed a MOU with Singapore scorecard developer Vector Scorecard Asia-Pacific Pte Ltd to explore the formation of a Financial Bureau that will promote greater trust, transparency and assurance towards facilitating trade and investment activities in Kenya.
The delegation also called on His Excellency Jakaya Kikwete, President of Tanzania, and participated in a business matching session with members of the business community in Kenya and Tanzania, and held meetings with some of the largest multi-industry conglomerates in both countries.
Mission Leader Mr Teo Siong Seng, Vice Chairman of SBF and Managing Director of Pacific International Lines, said "East Africa has built up a tremendous appetite for infrastructure development to support its economic growth. Our business delegation has also shown a strong willingness to participate in the region's growth, by offering Singapore companies' expertise and technology to build up capability in various aspects in areas such as in urban planning, port management, oil and gas, transport and logistics, water solutions and e-government."
Mr G. Jayakrishnan, Group Director for Middle East and Africa at IE Singapore said, "East Africa's geographical proximity and historical trade links with Asia makes the region a natural gateway into Africa for Singapore companies. Singapore companies looking for growth options will find a viable market in East Africa, which remains relatively untapped today. Opportunities include the burgeoning oil & gas sector in Tanzania driven by offshore gas discoveries, consumerism fuelled by a rising middle class in Kenya and Uganda, and a proactive drive into manufacturing championed by Ethiopia. This growth is sustainable in the long term due to better macroeconomic management, political stability, and a dynamic indigenous private sector.”
Mr Mark Low, General Manager of consumer trading goods company B. M. Nagano Pte Ltd, and a participant of the mission, said "We believe that both Kenya and Tanzania will continue to boast strong demand for consumer goods that are sourced globally. Singapore companies like ours with a strong network from Southeast Asia, India and China, will be able to cater to meet these growing needs. Through this SBF mission, we have been able to see firsthand, the vibrancy of the marketplace, and to expand our network of contacts in the region."