Vice-Chairperson of the Africa Business Group, Singapore Business Federation
President Paul Kagame‘s moves to turn Rwanda into ‘the Singapore of Africa’, a financial and information technology hub, have captured the city-state’s attention. Businesswoman Christina Tan led a delegation of the Singapore Business Forum’s Africa Business Group (AfBG) to Rwanda, Kenya and Uganda in December 2010. The group comprised 17 members, including representatives of Singapore businesses and officials from the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Trade and Industry. Shabbir Hassanbhai, High Commissioner to Nigeria and AfBG Chairman, was among them, as was Yatiman Yusof, High Commissioner to Rwanda and Kenya. The tour coincided with the visit of Zainul Abidin Rasheed, Singapore’s Senior Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, to Rwanda and Kenya from 4-12 December.
In Kigali, the group met with the Rwanda Development Board and the Private Sector Foundation, and was briefed by Mary Baine, Commissioner General of the Revenue Authority. Singapore investors, accustomed to working in a strong legal framework, will need strong reassurances before they decide to plant roots. This, the AfBG’s first mission since it was formed at the July 2010 Africa-Singapore Business Forum, proved fruitful. Two Singaporean companies soon set up shop in Rwanda: the Straits Trading Company, a textiles merchant, and DPI Investments, a cement trader. Tan participated in one of the SBF’s early missions to South Africa. In 1995, she joined GMT-Investcorp, a Johannesburg-based distributor of luxury goods. The group owns boutiques in Nelson Mandela Square in the posh area of Sandton.