Water industry investments doubled in Singapore [News]
And the government is confident it can meet its target of S$1.7 billion in annual GDP value-add by 2015.
Over the years, Singapore has turned what used to be a scarcity into its strength and now the water industry is seen as a growth area for the country.
In 2006, the target was to grow the sector such that it will contribute S$1.7 billion in annual GDP value by 2015, and to create 11,000 jobs.
Representatives from the Environment & Water Industry Programme Office (EWI) on Thursday expressed confidence that the target would be met.
The EWI is an inter-agency office, led by national water agency PUB, the Economic Development Board and IE Singapore.
They gave figures showing that investments by water companies in the last five years, when fully realised, will add about S$590 million in value add to the economy, as well as create about 2,300 professional and skilled jobs.
Singapore is now home to about 70 local and international water companies.
At the same time, Singapore companies have also secured overseas projects worth a total of S$8.4 billion.
Key markets include the Middle East and China. For instance, the technology used to recycle water – similar to the technology behind Newater – is being applied to a plant in the Bundamba Advanced Water Treatment Plant in Queensland, Australia.
The EDB said that Singapore’s strength lies primarily in research and development as well as providing support for companies.
Yeoh Keat Chuan, Assistant MD of the EDB, said: “The early part of the effort was focussed on rolling out a number of initiatives relating to R&D. That typically takes a longer gestation period.
“We are at the point now where we’re hoping to see some of those results, where technologies get rolled out into the marketplace after being test-bedded in Singapore, and that will generate higher value-added projects.”
One key activity is the test bedding of new technologies, which Singapore has made easier due to the infrastructure, accessibility and the willingness to take on these often capital-intensive projects.
Singapore’s willingness to take on capital-intensive test-bedding projects, is also a draw for foreign companies.
PUB said since 2006, there have been 107 test-bedding projects conducted here in collaboration with PUB and private R&D firms and institutions.
Ng Han Tong, Director of Industry Development at the PUB, said: “In their own country, they find difficulties finding test-bedding sites for their technologies to be tested. That’s one reason.
“Secondly, if they need to do test-bedding, they have to travel very far. But Singapore is so compact, so concentrated, they are always in close proximity to their test-bedding.”
Over the next few years, government agencies plan to continue Singapore’s focus on research and development.
They are also looking to expand their presence in markets like China and emerging ones such as India and Indonesia.
One strategy would be to serve as matchmakers between water tech companies and financing companies.
Goh Chee Kiong, Director of the Cleantech Division at the EDB, said: “They tend to be capital-intensive. And very often, financing is the bottle-neck. Because if they can’t raise the financing, even at the governmental level, they’ll find it difficult to implement their plans for their populations.
“That will be what we hope could be the value that Singapore can provide to companies and countries in the region.”
Source: Channel NewsAsia
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