Singapore urged to engage with Africa more

Singapore does not know Africa well enough, and that needs to change, Minister for Foreign Affairs Vivian Balakrishnan said yesterday.

"Speaking from an Asian perspective, quite honestly I think we do not know enough about Africa. We don't engage enough, we don't visit each other enough, we don't have enough people-to-people levels of exchanges," he said.

"But I hope that we will change this trajectory, and that in the decades to come, we will see much deeper engagement between our two regions."

He added: "Urbanisation presents both opportunities and challenges to both our regions."

Dr Balakrishnan was speaking at the opening of the three-day Sub-Saharan Africa High-Level Ministerial Exchange.

When Singapore first hosted the event in 2014, ministers from six African countries attended, compared with 10 yesterday.

While the theme two years ago was economic growth, the focus this time round is on sustainable development - sustainable cities and communities, quality education, clean water and sanitation.

The event will tackle these issues, and inculde site visits to a public housing project, the Institute of Technical Education, the Singapore Aviation Academy, and the Singapore Sustainability Gallery.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 23, 2016, with the headline 'Singapore urged to engage with Africa more'. Print Edition | Subscribe