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​NTU-SBF Centre for African Studies kicks off series of new initiatives to expand Singapore-Africa business links

Published on: 22-Jul-2015

Former World Bank executive director Paulo Gomes appointed Centre’s Distinguished Visiting Fellow

The new Centre for African Studies, jointly established by Nanyang Technological University (NTU) and Singapore Business Federation (SBF), is embarking on an intensive series of activities to foster closer business and investment ties between Singapore and Africa.

The Centre, the first of its kind in South-east Asia, will hold a series of seminars and forums and other activities from next month, to present Africa’s investment opportunities to Singapore business circles and further develop bilateral business and trade.

The line-up of activities includes a seminar on doing business in Africa, and an exhibition that not only celebrates the rich biodiversity found on the African continent but also offers insights into Africa's environmental business scene.

In September, the business community can look forward to a Distinguished Public Lecture on Leadership and Economic Growth in Africa, and a forum on doing business in Lusophone (Portuguese-speaking) Africa. There will also be lectures comparing African and Asian mindsets towards public and private sector engagement.

The activities are part of the Centre’s three-pronged strategy to develop thought leadership, expand Asian businesses’ capacity for doing business in Africa, and grow the network of people who hold deep affection for Africa and Southeast Asia.

The new initiatives come amid flourishing trade and commerce between Singapore and Africa in recent years. Singapore’s bilateral trade with Africa has grown at a compound annual growth rate of nearly 12 per cent over the past five years, reaching US$11 billion in 2013.

Ambassador Shabbir Hassanbhai, Chairman of the Advisory Board for the NTU-SBF Centre for African Studies and Vice Chairman of SBF highlighted, “This exciting new slew of activities by NTU-SBF Centre for African Studies can help address some of the challenges Singapore companies face in terms of expanding into Africa, given their limited human resources and market knowledge.”

Nanyang Business School Dean, Professor Ravi Kumar said, “Africa is on the rise and Asia is the global engine of growth. Bringing the two regions together can open up new opportunities for businesses in both parts of the world. The Centre housed within NTU’s Nanyang Business School can play an important strategic role in facilitating Asia’s engagement of Africa and vice versa.”

Former World Banker and International Business Leader appointed Centre’s Distinguished Visiting Fellow

The Centre’s fresh wave of activities will be driven by Mr Paulo Gomes, the newly appointed Distinguished Visiting Fellow, during his three-month stint. Mr Gomes, a native of Guinea-Bissau, is an accomplished senior business advisor who previously served as the executive director for 25 African countries at the World Bank and on the board of directors of the West African Development Bank.

Throughout his career, Mr Gomes has been actively involved in advancing business ties between Africa and the region. As part of the activities of the A&G Group, he co-organised the first edition of the Africa-South East Asia Business Forum in Singapore in 2010, which led to the creation of the Africa-South East Asia Chamber of Commerce (ASEACC) based in Singapore. He is currently Chairman of the Chamber's Advisory Board.

The announcement of Mr Gomes’ appointment was made by the Centre for African Studies Director Johan Burger ahead of the OKINKA exhibition of African tribal art at The Art Space @ Suntec City that will be officially launched this evening.  Organised by Paulo Gomes & Partners, and supported by Pacific International Lines, ASEACC and the Centre, the exhibition presents more than 50 precious African art works, including 20 exquisite and rare masterpieces, exhibited for the first time in Singapore.

Mr Johan Burger said, “With his considerable experience and expertise in key sectors such as banking, private equity and mining, Mr Paulo Gomes will bring valuable real-world insight to the Centre’s work and this will undoubtedly benefit Singapore businesses that are keen to expand their wings in the African continent, and vice versa."

Commenting on his new appointment, Mr Paulo Gomes said, “I’m grateful for the opportunity to contribute to deeper ties between Africa and Singapore, as well as the wider Asian region. This is a great opportunity to increase awareness of the Africa continent, in particular Lusophone Africa. Singapore can play a vital role as a hub to bridge economic links between both Asia and Africa.”

Launched in 2014 at the Africa Singapore Business Forum, the Centre for African Studies was set up with the assistance of five founding donor companies: Indorama Group, Olam International, Pacific International Lines, Tolaram Group and Wilmar International.

For more information the Centre for African Studies and its programmes, visit:

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Media contact:
Feisal Abdul Rahman
Senior Assistant Director (Media Relations)
Corporate Communications Office
Nanyang Technological University
Tel: (65) 6790 6687

About Nanyang Technological University
A research-intensive public university, Nanyang Technological University (NTU) has 33,000 undergraduate and postgraduate students in the colleges of Engineering, Business, Science, and Humanities, Arts, & Social Sciences. It has a new medical school, the Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine, set up jointly with Imperial College London.

NTU is also home to world-class autonomous institutes – the National Institute of Education, S Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Earth Observatory of Singapore, and Singapore Centre on Environmental Life Sciences Engineering – and various leading research centres such as the Nanyang Environment & Water Research Institute (NEWRI), Energy Research Institute @ NTU (ERI@N) and the Institute on Asian Consumer Insight (ACI).

A fast-growing university with an international outlook, NTU is putting its global stamp on Five Peaks of Excellence: Sustainable Earth, Future Healthcare, New Media, New Silk Road, and Innovation Asia.
NTU’s main campus at Yunnan Garden has been named one of Top 15 Most Beautiful in the World. It also has a campus in Novena, Singapore’s medical district.

For more information, visit

About Nanyang Business School

Consistently ranked among the world’s premier business schools, we have been nurturing leaders for business and public service, advancing global management knowledge and practice for over 50 years. Being fully integrated into Nanyang Technological University, we draw on the strengths of one of Asia’s most comprehensive research-intensive universities to provide holistic, interdisciplinary business education. We believe that responsible leadership in business and government is crucial to securing a sustainable future for our world. Through teaching and research, we groom leaders who pursue lasting success that seeks not only economic profit but also the interests of the community and environment.

For more information, please visit

About Singapore Business Federation

As the apex business chamber, the Singapore Business Federation (SBF) champions the interests of the business community in Singapore in trade, investment and industrial relations. Nationally, SBF acts as the bridge between the government and businesses in Singapore to create a conducive business environment. Internationally, SBF represents the business community in bilateral, regional and multilateral fora for the purpose of trade expansion and business networking.

Under the auspices of SBF is also an Africa-centric business community group, the Africa Business Group (AfBG), which serves as a platform to facilitate exchanges between the Singapore business community and their counterparts from the Africa region. This is a strong private-public partnership which focuses on market exploration; knowledge building and sharing; identification of projects and contacts; and advocacy. Since its launch in July 2010, the AfBG secretariat has engaged over 34 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa.

For more information, please visit

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