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23 April 2019
Africa’s New Electoral Playbook

Africa’s New Electoral Playbook

Africa Current Issues Vol. 2019-02

23 April 2019
Africa Digest, Volume 2019-01

Africa Digest, Volume 2019-01

Bi-weekly summary report on the trends and issues in the macro-environment and industry to promote knowledge and raise understanding of business in Africa.

23 April 2019
African SEZs & GVCs in the age of automation

African SEZs & GVCs in the age of automation

Is the African dream of industrialisation via special economic zones (SEZs) hosting global value chains (GVCs) feasible? 

23 April 2019
Nigeria's business prospects, investment opportunities to grow in government's 2nd term

Nigeria's business prospects, investment opportunities to grow in government's 2nd term

Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari successfully secured a second term at the helm of Africa's largest economy. Despite the controversial circumstances surrounding the run-up to the February poll, this was a...

23 April 2019
Is Africa the next tourism growth frontier?

Is Africa the next tourism growth frontier?

Summary report of a panel discussion at the Africa CEO Forum, held in Kigali, Rwanda, on 25 and 26 March 2019.

12 April 2019
The Opportunity in Banking Consolidation in East Africa

The Opportunity in Banking Consolidation in East Africa

  The East African banking sector has made significant strides in the past several years. From an industry that was once blamed for its exclusion to now being praised for its...

22 March 2019
Belvie: Establishing a consumer goods business in West Africa

Belvie: Establishing a consumer goods business in West Africa

  BeIvie is a Niger-based non-alcoholic beverages manufacturing and bottling group founded in 2014. This case study looks at how, in a relatively short period, Belvie captured significant market share from...

22 March 2019
Trends and Events in Africa 2018

Trends and Events in Africa 2018

2018 has been an interesting year for Africa, with various events and trends becoming visible. 2016 saw the effects of the slowdown of China’s economic growth due to its rebalancing...

20 March 2019
Nigeria’s Opportunity to Enhance the CFTA

Nigeria’s Opportunity to Enhance the CFTA

  Synopsis: The Continental Free Trade Area negotiations should take the concerns of domestic stakeholders seriously, for its own sustainable development.

19 March 2019
Raising The Steaks: Africa’s booming meat industry

Raising The Steaks: Africa’s booming meat industry

  The rapid growth of meat consumption in Africa will provide attractive opportunities for investors, but making production more efficient, protecting the environment and improving the lot of smallholders, pose many...

05 October 2018
Cover story: Sudan: Lifeline for the banking sector

Cover story: Sudan: Lifeline for the banking sector

  Sudan, one of the largest countries in the heart of Africa, has been struggling to stay afloat economically since the US imposed crippling trade and investment sanctions in 1997. The...

04 October 2018
Involving youth in agriculture in Africa

Involving youth in agriculture in Africa

Africa’s youth bulge presents both an opportunity and a challenge. More must be done to involve youth in agriculture as a means of providing employment, say Johan Burger and MD...

27 September 2018
More Singapore firms venturing into “challenging” Africa

More Singapore firms venturing into “challenging” Africa

It is a “long-term” play, say experts, but there is potential in areas like services, infrastructure

27 September 2018
Manufacturing in Nigeria: Status, challenges and opportunities

Manufacturing in Nigeria: Status, challenges and opportunities

  According to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), the Nigerian manufacturing sector is dominated by the production of food, beverages and tobacco, with sugar and bread products generating the greatest...

24 September 2018
Africa Rising will Lift Singapore Boats Too

Africa Rising will Lift Singapore Boats Too

If there is one thing that the recent Africa Singapore Business Forum (ASBF) reminded me of, it is what a polarising prospect the continent remains.

07 September 2018
Unpacking South Korea’s engagement with Africa

Unpacking South Korea’s engagement with Africa

  Following the end of the Korean War in 1953, South Korea prioritised its alliance with the United States in pursuit of economic growth and military security. It took more than...

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A Singapore tech start-up that makes it easier for businesses to set up online marketplaces is aiming to help farmers in the Cross River State in Nigeria sell their cocoa beans and products domestically and to the world.

Arcadier, as the firm is called, is quick to acknowledge that this ambitious project will be challenging.

“We are working with the government and it takes time,” co-founder Kenneth Low told the The Straits Times, citing issues the local authorities have to consider, like creating cooperatives, accreditation for farmers, and looking into how the supply chain moves.

More Singapore businesses like Arcadier have ventured into Africa over the years, with experts warning that it is “long-term play”.

The number of Singapore companies doing business on the continent has almost doubled since 2010, with 60 operating in more than 40 countries, said Enterprise Singapore. This is similar to reported numbers in 2016, despite Africa’s e-commerce market being projected to be worth US$75million (S$102 billion) by 2025, with opportunities in other areas ranging from manufacturing to construction to retail.

The director of the NTU-SBF Centre for Africa Studies at Nanyang Technological University, Mr Johan Burger, said the number of Singapore firms may not have increased faster given the distances, a lack of infrastructure and an insufficient understanding of Africa.

“Asean’s 600 million or so people are on Singapore‘s doorstep… The proximity and knowledge that companies enjoy create a greater sense of comfort for them to move into regional markets,” he said. “Africa is far its risks are less known and people here may not be familiar with the different countries”

Some, like conglomerate Tolaram Group, however, have seen success by doing homework on each area before moving in, he added. Such success stories such spur others to take the first step.

Over 30 years ago, Tolaram brought instant noodles –Indomie- to Nigeria. About 20 years ago, each person in Nigeria consumed around one pack of Indomie a year. Today, it is 20 packets per person a year,” said Tolaram Group’s managing director for Africa Haresh Aswani.

“We created an eating habit, as no one there had noodles in those days. It took us almost 12 years to create a market for noodles commercially.”

The firm has not stopped there. It has expanded its joint venture with American food manufacturing firm Kellogg’s and plans to manufacture and distribute Kellogg’s noodles to countries like Kenya as well.

Mr Burger said: “That is how we should be approaching Africa, not just looking at this monolithic giant and saying: “We’re not going there; it’s too big, too dangerous.””

He added that constraints seen in agriculture, manufacturing and infrastructure, among other areas, are also investment opportunities.

Some of this has to do with the continent’s growth trends. Africa’s population is set to 4.8 billion in 2100, and it is seeing urbanization, with an expanding middle class.

Mr Aswani predicts rapid growth in packed products in households, especially in food and beverages. There will also be growth in the infrastructure, energy, and service sectors.

Mr Collin Wee, director for international business at construction firm Well & Able Holdings, said acceptance of new technology takes time and education. This was the case for its prefabricated building techniques. It ventured into Mauritius to build the island’s first mega-mall after a decade ago and has since moved to Uganda and South Africa, in line with demand and acceptance of its speedier building methods.

“Africa is a growing department for Well & Able,” said Mr Wee, who foresees it making up 18 per cent of the firm’s business by next year.

Interest in Africa continues to grow, with 600 delegates, up from 450 two years ago, attending the Africa Singapore Business Forum this year. At the forum, Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing urged African firms to see Singapore as a launch pad for opportunities in South-east Asia and beyond.

On the other hand, Mr Aswani said: “Most African countries need new investments in the next 25 years to build their infrastructure, just to be on a par with what we have in Asia. The potential for growth is probably similar to that of China 20 years ago.”

Written by Seow Bei Yi for The Straits Times Business Section on 24 September 2018, Monday. Republished with permission.

NTU-SBF Centre for African Studies

 

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Singapore 639798

 

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