Singapore exports its govt expertise

Singapore exports its govt expertise

 But the metropolis — featuring a power plant fuelled by organic waste, pedestrian-oriented urban design and plenty of green space — is nowhere near Singapore: It is in northeastern China.

Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-City is a $22 billion effort to turn an expanse of nonarable salt pan and deserted beaches into a 30-square-kilometre urban area southeast of Tianjin. For China, the project is intended to showcase resource-efficient technologies and serve as a model for other new cities in the country.
For Singapore, a city-state of five million with few natural resources and one of the highest population densities in the world, it is another chance for its companies to cash in on decades of government investment in urban planning.
In the 1960s, Singapore suffered from severe overcrowding, poor living conditions and a lack of infrastructure. Today, thanks to numerous public housing and land reclamation projects, a modern international financial and business hub stands where slums and squatters once resided.

Grabbing the opportunity
Rapid, uncontrolled urbanisation in developing countries is creating environmental as well as socioeconomic problems, including the growth of slums and increases in air pollution and waste. What the World Bank describes as possibly the biggest challenge of the 21st century is also a giant business opportunity for those ready to share their know-how.

While many engineering and architectural firms do business globally, Singapore is unusual in its systematic governmental efforts to export the country’s public-sector expertise — in effect, selling pieces of the Singapore Inc model.
Four years ago, the government set up a one-stop shop, the Singapore Cooperation Enterprise, to respond to foreign requests to tap its governmental experience, including urban planning and training in fighting corruption. Two years ago, the Urban Redevelopment Authority International, was established to specifically deal with overseas enquiries on urban planning issues.

Each month, the Singapore Cooperation Enterprise, which has a full-time staff of 20, receives about 10 foreign delegations seeking expertise in areas like infrastructure development, master planning and water treatment. The agency organises visits to relevant ministries and departments and puts on 5- to 10-day training programmes.
So far, the enterprise has worked on more than 100 projects, including advising on master planning for the state of Minas Gerais in Brazil, advising Oman on the strategic development of its capital markets and training officials from Dubai’s department of finance. The government estimates that the enterprise funnelled $40 million into Singapore’s economy in its first two years; more recent data are not available.

Beyond urban planning, Singapore has also had some success exporting its know-how in the water sector. In 2003, Singapore opened its first two NEWater plants, which treat sewage via microfiltration and reverse osmosis, purifying the water for commercial and industrial use as well as human consumption.
Since 2006, Singaporean companies have clinched over 100 water-related projects globally worth more than 7.7 billion Singapore dollars. Those included a 1.5 billion-dollar sewage treatment plant in Qatar by Keppel Seghers, a 632 million-dollar desalination plant in Algeria by Hyflux and a 1.4 billion-dollar power and water desalination project in Oman by Sembcorp.

The Chinese government said last year it would invest about $2.41 billion over three years in the construction of 149 priority projects to push the development of the city. Several Singaporean companies have announced plans to invest the area’s first ‘eco-business’ park, a 4 billion-renminbi project slated to occupy 30 hectares.