Enterprise Singapore says that since 2010, the number of Singaporean businesses operating in Africa has nearly doubled. More than 60 companies have now opened in over 40 countries in the continent.
For example, Arcadier, a tech-start up which eases businesses into online marketplaces, is now helping farmers Nigeria. These agriculturists, located in Cross River State, have cocoa beans and other products that they’re looking to sell locally and to other nations.
Kenneth Low, the co-founder of Arcadier, says that their journey has been an uphill climb, but that they have been coordinating with local government agencies.
However, due to the need to creating supply chain channels and cooperatives, completion has taken time.
Indeed, Singaporean industry experts are considering business ventures into Africa as “long-term play.”
Bu 2025, the e-commerce in Africa is expected to be worth S$102 billion (US$75 billion).
Johan Burger, director of the NTU-SBF Centre for African Studies at Nanyang Technological University, says that the pace in which Singaporean businesses in Africa have grown is entirely to be expected because of current challenges, such as lack of infrastructure, cultural understanding, and great distances.
He said, “Africa is far, its risks are less known and people here may not be familiar with the different countries.”
The key for some companies that have brought businesses to Africa is due diligence. The Tolaram Group, for example, introduced instant noodles Indomie to Nigeria. The company did extensive research before launching their venture.
Haresh Aswani, the company’s managing director for Africa, said, “About 20 years ago, each person in Nigeria consumed around one packet of Indomie a year. Today, it is 20 packets a person a year. 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 Tolaram Group expects that there will be growth in Africa in the areas of infrastructure, energy and service, as well as a sharp rise in products for households that are packaged, particularly for the food and beverage industry.
The director for international business at construction company Well & Able Holdings, Collin Wee, has said that it takes some education and time for people to adjust to new technology.
He foresees that the continent will comprise 18 percent of Well & Able’s business for 2019. He said, ”Africa is a growing department for Well & Able.”
Well & Able built Mauritius’ first super mall around 10 years ago. Of late the company has ventured into Uganda and South Africa because of faster methods of building as well as greater demand.