The global Covid-19 pandemic should not dampen investor appetite in Africa. The continent remains an investment destination of choice despite the challenges, panelists at an opening session of the 2021 Africa Singapore Business Forum heard today.
Trade between Singapore and Africa has been growing steadily over the past five years, with Singapore being among the top 10 investors in Africa. More than 100 Singaporean companies are currently operating across 50 African countries in the oil and gas, consumer, digital, agri-business and trade sectors.
Talking with Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Senior Minister and Coordinating Minister for Social Policies, African Development Bank President Akinwumi A. Adesina spoke about the global recession and disruption in African markets that Covid-19 had caused. But he voiced optimism about opportunities for investment. “You cannot ignore African markets… Africa is open to investors,” Adesina said, stressing that “the challenges are the opportunities.”
Asked about the sectors offering the most potential for investment, Adesina cited energy- renewable energy, such as mini and micro grids, solar, infrastructure and logistics.
The annual event identifies opportunities in key sectors and areas, including digital technology, financing, innovation, manufacturing, sustainability, and urban solutions.
Viswanathan Shankar, co-founder and CEO of Gateway Partners, moderated the conversation, called Leapfrogging the World: Innovation and Sustainability in Africa.
Shanmugaratnam urged Singapore investors to take both a short- and long-term view of the investment climate, which in his view saw Africa rebounding in the short term and continuing to be an important investment destination in the long term, with many still uncontested opportunities.
“Africa is quite different. Africa’s growth profile, it is an environment which is not dominated by large players… it is an open field… get a foothold get the right partners,” he said.