23 Apr 2018
SPEECH BY SINGAPORE HIGH COMMISSIONER CHUA THAI KEONG DURING THE SINGING CEREMONY BETWEEN TNPA AND SALDEHCO SPV AT SALDANHA PORT ON
23 APRIL 2018
23 April 2018
The Hon. Alan Winde, Provincial Minister of Economic Opportunities in the Western Cape
The Hon. Marius Koen, Executive Mayor of Saldanha Municipality
Mr Siyabonga Gama, Group Chief Executive of Transnet Group
Ms Sophie Masipa, Chairperson of Saldehco SPV
Mr Jeffrey Phang, Managing Director of Saldehco
Ladies and gentlemen
As High Commissioner and Ambassador in Southern Africa from a country involved in this project, I am delighted to offer a few congratulatory remarks. The Singapore government encourages and supports companies based in Singapore such as HARPS to invest in South Africa. Some of the reasons are as follows. First, we know that Africa is a land of opportunities and South Africa is strategically located. Second, we recognise that jobs are a priority in South Africa, and jobs are arguably the most dignified way to transform communities. Third, we hope that Singapore can complement the development in Africa on a “win-win” basis. Fourth, the peoples of Singapore and South Africa share a common history and destiny as part of the Global South.
As government, we promote closer economic ties on a daily basis, with the embassy or High Commission connecting leaders and officials, and the office of Enterprise Singapore, our trade and investment promotion agency, catalysing business opportunities. Our work is supported by two platforms. First, there is the Singapore Cooperation Programme, which has trained over 900 South African officials including those in parastatals such as the TNPA Second, there is the regular Africa-Singapore Business Forum that is preceded by a High-Level Ministerial Meeting hosted in Singapore. In fact, I am told that HARPS and its South African partner Semona found each other at the first ASBF. By the way, the next High-Level Ministerial and Business Forum will be held in Singapore on 27-30 August this year.
In economic development, Singapore has some experience that may be useful to other countries. We are a knowledge, skills, capital intensive and capital surplus economy, especially in the maritime sector. Singapore was founded as a port and continues to make a living from shipping. I cannot over-emphasise the importance of the maritime sector to Singapore, as it contributes 7% of its GDP and 170,000 jobs, making Singapore the world’s biggest transshipment hub and second busiest port in the world.
As far as I know, this is the first Singapore investment in South Africa’s “new dawn”. I am told that then Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa’s visit to Singapore in 2016 played a role in clinching this investment. At R2.2 billion, it is not insignificant. Its success will send a powerful message to other Singapore companies that South Africa is indeed open for business. As Initiative No. 2 of Operation Phakisa Blue Ocean, its success would also provide critical impetus and momentum to develop South Africa’s maritime economy.
In closing, allow me to congratulate Saldehco and Transnet for picking each other. As the ancient Chinese philosopher Laozi said, “The journey of a 1,000 miles starts with a single step.” Though many steps have been taken to reach here, this is really only the beginning. This partnership has to be nurtured. There is a long road ahead. Other participants present today including the media also have a stake in their success. May all work closely and in good faith, so that in 20 years’ time when we look back, we can all claim credit for your success.