7 April 2010

Africa: Continent Courts Asian Money

Nairobi — Top African policymakers and businessmen descended on Singapore this week to convince their counterparts in Southeast Asia that the resource-rich continent is the "last frontier" for investment opportunities.
African cabinet ministers and bankers pitched the potential of deals in infrastructure, agribusiness and utilities to expanding regional companies such as commodity trader Olam, water treatment firm Hyflux and Singapore state investor Temasek .
Africa, increasingly courted by China to feed its demand for resources, is looking to diversify investment from fast-growing Asia and is seeking expertise from a region that is a leading producer of commodities such as palm oil, rice and rubber.
"While Africa is trying to build a relationship with Asia, it tends to focus on China," said Arnold Ekpe, CEO of pan-African bank Ecobank Transnational Inc, which was a main sponsor of the Africa and Southeast Asia Business Forum in Singapore. "But Asia doesn't have only China," he told Reuters.
Asia is leading a world recovery and Southeast Asian economies are seen growing by up to 5.6 per cent this year, much stronger than Europe or the United States, but still slower than China, according to a report by regional body ASEAN on Tuesday.
African policymakers told the conference that bad publicity from civil wars and natural disasters were overshadowing the continent's successes of robust economic growth and a growing middle-class.
The IMF said last month it might upgrade its assessment of Africa's economic growth prospects.

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