Singapore firms want to broaden their reach to Africa

With tons of opportunities presented by Africa’s $3 trillion market, many companies are setting up shops in South Africa, Tanzania, and Uganda.

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“Companies from Singapore, where their expertise is in areas such as sustainable city planning, green building solutions, clean energy, water, wastewater treatment, electric mobility, and so on, these are companies that will find a good and real market that they can easily get into,” shared Rahul Ghosh, director of Middle East & Africa at EnterpriseSG.

Currently, there are around 100 companies that operate in 40 African countries, and some have done this for over two decades.

For instance, Singapore kitchen appliance brand Newmatic is helping Africans furnish their kitchens, and it now has more than 50 employees in East Africa.

“Looking at their homes, they’re thinking about how to upgrade their kitchen and improve their homes. So that results in them buying more of our products,” said Dave Choy, director of Newmatic.

“Also, the competition in the market during the (pandemic), most of them shut down because they had difficulties with supply chains. Most of them were supplied from Europe, so they had difficulties in the supply chain, whereas we were supplied from Asia.”

“So we were very lucky. In fact, we grew several folds during the three years of the pandemic,” he added.

Another company, Speco, which specialises in sanitation, has also seen growth.

“Technology is new to them. Prices are still quite okay, they are able to afford our segment of pricing and they see a potential,” said Mr Benjamin Chua, founder and chief executive officer of Speco.

“So over these past five days of conversations, we have established quite a number of leads, hopefully qualified ones that can help us to expand our footprint into this side of the world.”

Companies who want to expand their reach in Africa are not exempt from risks. For instance, luxury goods dealer GMT Investcorp said that security issues still remain.

“You may be hearing a lot of things you’ve never heard of in Singapore, so be ready for it. That’s why I think to come here, you need to have some guts.”

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