Singapore exports its expertise to Africa

The story of Singapore is intimately bound up with the island city-state’s mastery of urban planning. Now, it is exporting this expertise to Africa.


Cities are a growth industry in Africa. The continent has experienced some of the fastest urbanisation rates globally in the last two decades, at 3.5 percent per year. By 2050, 60 percent of Africa’s population is expected to be urbanised.
Keen to play a leading role reimagining the continent’s growing urban centres is Surbana International Consultants. The company built its profile shaping Singapore’s distinctive skyline, designing and building more than one million homes in 26 “integrated township” estates on the island. It has also helped to shape the country’s unique approach to housing and social policy.
“We have the technical expertise in housing a nation, knowledge of good corporate governance framework, coordination skills between different levels of government and between the private and public sectors,” explained Surbana’s CEO, Pang Yee Ean. Now, Surbana is looking to capitalise on this success story overseas.
“We have exported Singapore’s concept of integrated townships, adapting it to meet local needs to create holistic and sustainable living environments,” said Yee Ean.
“Our value proposition lies in being able to help emerging economies shape their development strategy towards the path of sustainable growth, thereby facilitating growth for the region.”   
This proficiency has taken Surbana to more than 90 cities in 26 countries around the world. In Africa, the projects are starting to come in thick and fast.
“We should be planning two cities in Tanzania soon, we are planning the city of Bujumbura in Burundi, we are going to be in Nigeria, and in Mozambique very, very soon. And also in Angola” where Surbana has created the redevelopment master plans for three zones in the capital Luanda, said Mr Louis Tay, Surbana’s managing director for city management and of its Africa portfolio.
Perhaps Surbana’s highest profile project on the continent so far was creating the master plans for the city of Kigali, Rwanda. Rwandan President Paul Kagame is a known enthusiast of Singapore’s development model and its post-independence Prime Minister, Lee Kuan Yew. He frequently refers to his country as the “Singapore of Africa”.


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