Denmark takes pole position as Singapore initiates ‘Infrastructure Asia’

‘Infrastructure Asia’ (IA) is one of the Singapore Government’s most recent and very important initiatives (launched during its presidency of ASEAN in 2018, at the 8th Asia-Singapore Infrastructure Roundtable) – an entity put up to support Asia’s economic and social growth through infrastructure development. Denmark in Singapore has immediately responded to this by engaging and highlighting the sustainable infrastructure growth opportunities from Danish expertise.

Enterprise Singapore and the Monetary Authority of Singapore launched IA in October 2018 to serve as one-stop platform to facilitate regional infrastructure collaboration, not least to address the region’s investment gap. IA is foreseeing a combination of concrete infrastructure projects and world-class technical competencies.

It will serve as a bridge for different industry players across the infrastructure ecosystem, multilateral development banks (MDBs) and the public sector, including the information exchange and sharing of best practices in Asia.

One core reason for the new platform is to address an investment gap in Asia of US$ 460 billion annually for infrastructure. That requires thinking outside the box and a concerted effort. The bankability of such projects also remains a challenge. To drive and address some of these gaps, IA will focus on: one, connecting partners in the ecosystem and catalysing collaboration; two, building capacity in markets with infrastructure needs through knowledge sharing or training sessions; and three, providing advice to help improve the chances of the projects to be financed.

Danish embassy platform

As Dorte Bech Vizard, Denmark’s Ambassador to Singapore got news about IA she did not let this opportunity slip, and engaged right away with the stakeholder. In December Danish companies presented their solutions and expertise to IA. The Embassy also set up its separate platform to connect to IA.

“Denmark’s IA platform is an initiative from the Danish Embassy in Singapore, linking Danish solution providers and Danish institutional investors to Singapore’s Infrastructure Asia Office,” Mark Perry, Commercial Advisor at Embassy of Denmark in Singapore, tells ScandAsia.

The ‘Infrastructure Asia platform’ is open to all Danish companies, including SMEs, with an established track record of infrastructure related solutions.

“We initially approached Danish solution providers with a base in Singapore. The exercise was very well received both among the Danish companies and Infrastructure Asia and will be repeated as an integral component of the Danish Embassy’s Infrastructure Asia platform. Here, Danish participants will be empowered to influence Infrastructure Asia’s project scouting activities through sharing of competencies and regional business interests.”

“Infrastructure Asia is demand-driven: they will identify any cross-sectoral opportunities where there are gaps to be filled. Examples include water & wastewater, power, waste-to-energy, transport, and urban development,” he furthermore explains.

The Danish embassy’s view is that “sustainable infrastructure opportunities are booming in Southeast Asia”.

Denmark will utilize its international recognition and world-class products and innovation: “Denmark is widely recognized as a world leading provider of a range of sustainable development solutions (e.g. wind and water) stemming from a long tradition of pursuing solutions that are sustainable in the long run. Moreover, Denmark is widely recognized as a frontrunner and global role model in sustainable development with a universal health care and educational system, gender equality, a generous social safety net, cooperation among social partners, responsible business, clean and efficient energy production, personal freedom and more.”

In the IA context Mark Perry says that “sustainable infrastructure opportunities encompass projects that are designed, built, and operated in ways that do not diminish human equity, diversity, and the functionality of natural systems. Sustainable infrastructure opportunities are closely linked to UN’s 9th Sustainable Development Goal and include any projects including resource-use efficiency and greater adoption of clean and environmentally sound technologies and industrial processes. Examples include: renewable energy installations, industrial waste water and water reuse facilities; and energy efficient urban development”.

Denmark will, with its strong presence in Southeast Asia/Asean, do its best in being involved. Early engagement through the Danish Embassy’s Infrastructure Asia Platform initiative is key to unlocking the market potential for infrastructure investments.

“Denmark has taken an early lead in securing Danish solution providers pole position in the race to secure Asia’s infrastructure needs. As such, participants on the Danish Embassy’s IA will be ideally positioned to benefit from collaborations with other international players who may engage with Singapore’s Infrastructure Asia office.”

The Danish initiative will work closely with Singapore’s IA Office to deliver regional infrastructure project opportunities for Danish solutions providers. The Danish Embassy functions as the link between Infrastructure Asia, Danish institutional investors (e.g. pension funds, EKF, IFU, etc.), and Danish solution providers. IA intends to engage and collaborate with regional governments to identify concrete project opportunities.

Danish companies joining the Infrastructure Asia Platform will enjoy the following main benefits:1. Get first-hand pre-tender information of new infrastructure project opportunities in Southeast Asia. 2. Ensure their solutions are top of mind at IA, who will facilitate the dialogue between project owners and solution providers. 3. Jointly bid on high value projects through partnerships with complementary solution providers within the Danish coalition.

Fact-finding trips

“Infrastructure Asia will work closely with the private sector, governments, commercial and multilateral development banks to provide solutions that are customised to meet the local market’s specific needs and requirements. We will also offer advice to relevant countries and work with them on capacity building. With better knowledge, skills and resources, we can improve project feasibility and bankability, enabling project leads to become viable commercial projects,” said Mr Seth Tan Keng Hwee, Executive Director, Infrastructure Asia, upon its launch.

IA has already made fact-finding trips to seven markets, including Indonesia, Myanmar, the Philippines and Vietnam, as well as come up with strategic plans for 2019.

The sectors they will end up focusing on for each market depend on the actual demand of the regional governments.

IA is specially set up with a broad mandate to provide infrastructure solutions from not only local Singapore companies, but also foreign companies present in Singapore.

“As IA’s overall aim is to grow Singapore as a leading infrastructure hub, locally based Danish companies as well as Danish companies looking to leverage on the collaboration between Infrastructure Asia and the Danish Embassy to be part of Singapore’s infrastructure ecosystem, are welcomed,” states an embassy report


About Joakim Persson

Freelance business and lifestyle photojournalist

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