In the 53 years since its independence, Singapore’s transformation has been nothing short of miraculous. Today, it is the world’s fourth-largest financial center, home to one of the world’s busiest container ports, and one of the most vital nodes of the global economy.
The rise and rise of Singaporean conglomerate Keppel Corporation, which marks its 50-year anniversary this year, mirrors Singapore’s own story of nation-building. From humble beginnings as a small local ship repair yard, the company now has a footprint in over 30 countries, as a major player in offshore and marine, property, infrastructure, telecommunications and logistics. With more than 20,000 employees, it booked revenues of $6 billion for the financial year 2017.
Today, Keppel is not just a group of diverse companies who share a common name, but an eco-system of companies working closely together with a common purpose to provide compelling solutions for sustainable urbanization.
This is an urgent topic for ASEAN countries, which are forecast to witness massive urban growth in the next three decades. According to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), more than 205 million people in Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand, Myanmar, Malaysia, Cambodia, Laos,
Singapore, and Brunei are expected to move to cities by 2050, with this expected to lead to a rapid rise of more than 200 smaller cities.
In order for ASEAN’s growth to be sustainable, its fastswelling cities will require offshore production assets or LNG solutions to meet growing energy needs, attractive urban environments and reliable infrastructure to support sustainable communities, and efficient data centers and logistics solutions to buttress the digital economy and ever-expanding e-commerce development.
To address these urbanization needs, Keppel has established Keppel Urban Solutions which brings together the group’s competencies and strengths to provide solutions and position Singapore firmly at the heart of the region’s advancement.
“As we evolve we realized that in the marketplace people don’t just look for a provider of solution for specific isolated needs or requirement. The needs and requirements are interlinked. Our capability lies in undertaking larger scale projects whereby we resolve end-to-end problems right at the beginning from design thinking,” says Cindy Lim, managing director of the company’s Keppel Urban Solutions (KUS) unit.
Keppel has already developed a strong record in developing large-scale urban developments across Asia, notably, the landmark bilateral project, Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-City in China and Palm City in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Now, the company is bringing together its strengths and diverse solutions to pursue sustainable and smart urban development opportunities in the region.
“As Keppel, our minimum discipline is that we will choose the right place to compete or choose the right battle to fight. ASEAN is not one homogenous entity, so we selectively pick countries, and even within countries cities or districts or provinces where we think we can create and add value,” adds Ms. Lim.
In order to do this, the company is seeking out partnerships with local, regional and international firms to leverage on synergies. In June this year, the company signed a memorandum of understanding with Singaporean multinational ST Engineering to enable the two companies to leverage on each other’s expertise and resources in the design and implementation of smart city masterplans and solutions across the Asia Pacific region.
Beginning with Vietnam, where Keppel has a strong presence and track record, one of the projects that the two companies will embark on is Saigon Sports City, a 64-hectare development envisaged to be Vietnam’s first one-stop sports, entertainment and lifestyle hub. Technologies in the pipeline under consideration
include smart street lighting, smart security management, autonomous vehicles and mobile robots, drone network solutions, and smart environment monitoring.
Meanwhile, the company also recently signed an MOU with US firm Envision, a global smart energy management company, which will enable Keppel Urban Solutions to integrate Envision’s En OSTM, the world’s largest and first open source energy IoT platform, into the group’s assets and developments globally, not just in Singapore.
“We will focus again on our discipline of competing or hunting in places that we can create value. We will stick very closely to our mission where we can be a solutions provider for sustainable urbanization. We will stick very closely to our operating principle which is all about delivering the best solution for our customers,” says Ms. Lim.
As ASEAN faces new challenges, Singaporean firms such as Keppel Corporation are transforming and evolving to meet them, strengthening the city-state’s position as the region’s solutions provider for sustainable and inclusive development.