Published on 02 Oct 2020

Connecting Africa and Asia

Together with five of Singapore’s leading investors in Africa, the NTU-SBF Centre for African Studies conducts high-impact research, activities, and events that aim to connect Africa and Asia. ​

The world’s urban population is set to increase by 2.5 billion people in the next 30 years. Almost 90 percent of this growth is due to occur in Asia and Africa, presenting vast opportunities between the two regions.

Together with five of Singapore’s leading investors in Africa, the NTU-SBF Centre for African Studies (CAS) at Nanyang Business School conducts high-impact research, activities, and events that aim to connect Africa and Asia. The five founding corporate partners of CAS were Indorama Group, Olam International, Pacific International Lines, Tolaram Group and Wilmar International, who each made a generous donation of $1 million towards the Centre’s efforts to drive business success in Africa.

Beyond supporting the Centre’s establishment, the founding corporate partners are members of the CAS Advisory Board. This close industry collaboration enables the Centre to address the real-world issues and trends affecting business in Africa, both today and into the future.

Since its inception in 2013, CAS has contributed significant research and insights into pressing business issues related to African markets. Led by emerging markets expert, NBS Professor Sam Park, CAS has played an instrumental role in:

  • Providing thought leadership on Africa to increase business knowledge and understanding of investment opportunities, risks and challenges, and sustainable strategies for Africa’s diverse markets. CAS' regular research publications include Africa Current Issues (ACI) and Africa Digest (AD).​
  • Developing human capital to support business engagement and expansion in Africa, by educating and nurturing a community of thinkers and doers who are Africa-savvy. Undergraduate NBS students recently explored new ventures in Africa through the annual NBS African Challenge Business Case Competition.
  • Fostering an integrated Africa network that cultivates ties among business, political, and thought leaders in Southeast Asia and Africa to narrow the knowledge gap between both regions. The African Angle Breakfast Series held in January brought together industry thought-leaders to share their perspectives on the topic of Identifying and Managing Africa’s Security Challenges.

“Africa continues to offer new and valuable opportunities for Singapore business even as the existing relationships keep growing stronger,” says Ranveer Chauhan, Chair of the CAS Advisory Board.

“It has been now four successful years for CAS since the founding support received from Singapore's leading business houses, I am proud of the research that CAS shares regularly, also of the continued support from and enthusiasm of our Africaphile community.”

Quotes from donors

Mr S.S. Teo, SBF Chairman and Managing Director of Pacific International Lines said: “PIL has played an active role in the growing African economy since 1967. With the NTU-SBF Centre for African Studies as a conduit, we look forward to share our experience with the research groups on the social, economic, political and cultural issues that impact doing business in Africa. Through the Centre, we hope that the academia and the business communities can network and collaborate in developing strategies that will contribute to realising the business opportunities in Africa.”

Mr Amit Lohia, Group Managing Director of Indorama Group said: “Indorama hopes that the Centre for African Studies acts as an important bridge for “South-South” partnership and provides deep insights into Africa, reflecting upon its vast opportunities and bringing it closer into mainstream of global trade and social cohesion.”

Mr Venkatramani Srivathsan, Managing Director, Africa and Middle East, Olam International said: "The establishment of South East Asia’s first Centre for African Studies could not be more prescient given the strengthening ties and expanding business opportunities Singapore-based companies share with African nations. This year marks 25 years in Africa for Olam and the Centre provides a tremendous platform for all involved to share collective experience and learn from each other.”

Mr Sajen G. Aswani, Chief Executive of Tolaram Group said: “Having been involved in Africa for the last 35 years, Tolaram Group is witness to the fact that Africa has moved progressively forward. We think that a think-tank dedicated to African issues will definitely make a positive impact. We look forward to continuously making meaningful contributions to the economic, political and social development of Africa where many of us cut our teeth in the business world.”

Mr Kuok Khoon Hong, Chairman & CEO of Wilmar International Limited said: “Africa, with its rapid economic growth, offers exciting business potential but is considered by many a challenging market. The Centre is well-placed to be the platform for the business community to exchange insights and experiences on Africa to tap the long-term opportunities. By advancing thought leadership and fostering an integrated Africa-Singapore network, it will pave the way for more Singapore companies to gain a foothold in the fast emerging economy. Since entering Africa about 14 years ago, Wilmar has a footprint in 12 countries across the continent today. Through our internship programme, we hope that the younger generation will discover the great opportunities in Africa which is actually not as unsafe as commonly perceived to be, and be encouraged to venture and build a great career there.”