It was a remarkable experience at the Africa Singapore Business Forum 2023. This 2-Day conference fostered key conversations around the efforts and strategies necessary to strengthen business and trade relations between Africa and Singapore.
The forum created the perfect avenue for industry leaders, captains of companies and political statesmen to engage in riveting discourses on matters with a specific focus on the African continent, the business opportunities it presents, as well as the challenges and consequences for local and foreign corporations seeking to explore the African frontier.
As an emerging stakeholder and leader in Africa’s international trade, Sunbeth Global Concepts was duly represented at the conference by Oluwafemi Akinyomi, who took the opportunity to gain useful knowledge about the African business landscape and also connect with notable individuals who could become strategic partners for SGCL in the future.
The event had participants from multiple African and Asian countries representing various notable organizations. Recognizing the importance of high-quality Networking, the forum also provided ample opportunities for all the attendees to meet, greet, and engage in engrossing side-discussions, adding further value for the delegates aside from the highly engaging discourses of the main conversations,
The forum occurred at the Grand Copthorne Waterfront Hotel on August 29th and 30th of August, 2023. Over the two days of the event, the participants were treated to a brilliant keynote address and debate, multiple panel sessions, a fireside chat, and track discussions around the African business and trade ecosystem.
Gan Kim Yong, Singapore’s Minister for Trade and Industry, gave the Keynote address at the start of the conference. He welcomed the participants to the seventh edition of the Africa Singapore Forum, highlighting the purpose of the event, which was to create a platform for industry leaders to share their insights on the African growth story, help businesses find partners and connect two fast-growing regions – Africa and Southeast Asia. It could also be gathered from his speech that the forum welcomed delegates from 14 African countries.
The Minister also spoke about arising issues such as geopolitical conflicts, the climate crisis, the AfCFTA implications, and how the concept of Open Regionalism can help businesses and countries deepen trade and investment ties to other nations outside of their regions.
In addition, he buttressed the role Singapore plays as a Node in Africa-Asia Trade, stating that the country provides a vantage point for African companies conducting trade in Southeast Asia. Towards his speech conclusion, he reiterated Singapore’s commitment to improving connectivity with Africa. He stated that the country is investing efforts to foster an excellent future for Africa-Singapore and Africa-Asia collaborations.
Following the address was a Keynote Dialogue involving Alvin Tan( Singapore’s Minister of State), Samaila Zubairu (Africa Finance Corporation), and Shankar V (Gateway Partners).
The trio juxtaposed opinions and insights on the theme “Enhancing Economic Collaboration between Africa & Singapore.” They shared ideas on how businesses can diversify into new frontiers in Africa and also work with Singapore partners to build capacities. In addition, they talked about how companies can navigate new market shifts through stronger collaboration between markets.
However, the panel sessions were the highlight activities of the first day of the forum. Participants were treated to three engaging breakout sessions. Each of the panels featured a remarkable lineup of speakers discussing various topics that are of significant importance to the growth of Africa as a business and trading frontier. Specifically, the first panel addressed Consumer Trade and High-Value Manufacturing and Growth Engines for Africa.
The panellists shared their ideas on the growing African consumer market, its enticing opportunities, the development of AfCFTA, and how businesses can utilize joint partnerships for high-value manufacturing in various sectors.
The second panel session focused on the ongoing digital tech boom in Africa. The panellists shared deep insights on the role of e-commerce, retail tech and fintech as catalysts for this development. They also discussed the influence of the increasing digital adoption in Africa and a vibrant startup ecosystem in the advancement of the African tech ecosystem.
The last panel for the day deliberated on Africa’s Green and Sustainable Development. The conversation revolved around the implications of rapid urbanization in Africa, necessitating a growing demand for green solutions to address environmental challenges. Expectedly, the speakers provided remarkable insights into how companies are working towards carbon neutrality and driving greener opportunities for Africa.
As a cherry on the cake, a fireside chat was also hosted during the forum. It featured James Mwangi of Equity Group Holdings discussing how financial institutions are bridging external financing from Asia into Africa with Karim Anjarwalla from ALN Kenya. The duo spoke about the measures companies are implementing to improve financial inclusion for businesses and individuals seeking to operate in Africa.
On the second day of the forum, the attendees participated in track sessions where select industry leaders shared insights on business and trade opportunities and challenges in the four main regions of Africa, i.e. North, East, South, and West Africa.
Each of the speakers involved in the track sessions represented an African country. They all took the platform to educate interested investors on the various opportunities and business advantages that are available in the nations they represent.
Overall, the Africa-Singapore Forum was a remarkable initiative. It provided a platform for industry leaders and other major business stakeholders to meet, connect and engage in riveting conversations about shared interests. Kudos to Enterprise Singapore for putting together such a splendid Forum.