Business opportunities beckon in Madagascar

Singapore and Madagascar are looking to work more closely together in areas like master-planning, capacity building and small and medium-sized enterprise development. The initiative follows a memorandum of understanding inked between the Madagascan government and Singapore Cooperation Enterprise, an arm of IE Singapore, yesterday at the first ever Madagascar-Singapore Business Forum.

The event at Conrad Centennial Singapore was held in conjunction with the first state visit of Madagascan President Hery Rajaonarimampianina and business and political leaders. The President spoke of the "distances that separate" Singapore, adding: "When we look at all the indicators... GDP, access rate to education... Singapore is far ahead.

"But... we can reduce this distance. We can turn those differences into opportunities".

He encouraged businesses to invest in the country, whose gross domestic product grew 3.3 per cent in 2014. Madagascar is looking to develop its infrastructure to drive growth in key industries, including agriculture, textile and ecotourism.

Mr Douglas Foo, council member of Singapore Business Federation, one of the forum organisers, noted: "Singaporean companies have had many years of trade relations with Madagascar in consumer electronics, petroleum products and agricultural products."

Chief executive Al Njoo of local Benchmark Group, which is focused in oil and gas, said: "Madagascar has emerged as an important oil-producing country with energy security becoming one of its top policy priorities." He said it is an "opportunity for Singapore... to participate in the early stages to develop the energy sector in the country."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 19, 2016, with the headline 'Business opportunities beckon in Madagascar'. Print Edition | Subscribe