Representatives from Singyes Green Energy Technologies (HK) Limited shared their insights concerning the nature of their core business. They also spoke of the challenges they have faced in operating abroad, the impact on the development pattern of local communities, as well as their relations with institutional players both at home and abroad. This was the second guest lecture this semester that was arranged by the Government and International Relations Programme (GIR) and was held during the afternoon on 26 April in room B101.

Singyes Green Energy Technologies’ main business includes environmental protection, renewable energy application and supply of new material.

Assistant Professor and Programme Director of GIR, Dr Edoardo Monaco spoke briefly to introduce the event, pointing out that guest lectures by practitioners allow students to connect classroom studies with real world dynamics, so he encouraged the attendees to take advantage of these further formative experiences by interacting with the speakers during the questions period at the end.

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 Mr Xie Xiaobin, a Project Manager at Singyes, spoke about his experiences in Cameroon

The lecture’s first speaker was Mr Xie Xiaobin, a Project Manager at Singyes, who spoke about his own experience from his one-year stay in Cameroon where he was part of a project that was installing photovoltaic systems in some 160 villages around Cameroon. The title of his talk was “The Overseas Investment of Photovoltaics”. During this lecture he discussed in great depth the differences and the challenges that occurred, plus how communication was important and what benefited projects that he was involved in to improve the local community.

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Mr Xie Xiaobin explained how Chinese manufacturing has transformed from producing relatively simple, low-priced products to a point where it now innovates and creates high-tech products. He mentioned the internal policy support that his company receives and then explained the advantages of the ‘One Belt One Road’ strategy. China’s economy, in fact, is increasingly based on knowledge and technology. At the same time, in an era of profound global integration, innovative Chinese businesses are eagerly looking for opportunities across emerging, dynamic markets in Asia and Africa. Thanks to his company, many local villages around Cameroon have electricity so, he said, “Now the villagers can say goodnight to the dark of the night”.

Mr Peter Tan, Deputy General Manager of Singyes explained briefly about other photovoltaic energy projects in Uzbekistan and Tonga.

In the following Q&A session, students were very forthcoming with their questions and asked plenty. One student asked “Why did Singyes invest in Africa?” Xiaobin responded by saying “Because Africa has a lot of natural sunlight, so photovoltaic energy can be very efficient. Plus, Africa has many areas with no electricity, so there are huge market opportunities”.

“Why didn’t you invest in regions like Xinjiang that has a similar environment to Cameroon?” one student enquired. A Singyes representative explained that, domestically, they are limited by law on how much power they could produce.

Year 4 GIR student, Deng Qi (Shawn), asked about the risks and challenges encountered when investing in Africa. “In certain cases, projects are part of broader frameworks ultimately brokered by both local and Chinese governments,” replied a Singyes representative, before going into greater depth of the protection that local governments do offer them.

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Students asked plenty of questions

Another student wanted to know about the perception of the local people towards Chinese business presence. “Ni Hao” was surprisingly common to hear among the locals towards Chinese, so the general attitude is positive and welcoming. Xiaobin added that Chinese companies are not alone in Africa, as there is also presence and competition from Western countries.

An engineering-related question was asked by another student, who wanted to know how Singyes will maintain the facilities in the future. Mr Stanson Li, an engineer at Singyes, explained that one of the challenges was to educate and train the locals but until then they will have to keep servicing and inspecting the facilities. He even mentioned how Singyes is more likely to replace parts than repair them, as it is more cost effective. He also mentioned a research institute created in Uzbekistan to train local specialists, thus encouraging further development and a minimal level of technical self-sufficiency.

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There were several representatives from Singyes that attended

The HR Manager at Singyes, who was also attending the event, concluded by inviting interested students to apply for positions in the company upon graduation, as the company is often looking for talents with good understanding of international affairs to join their team and possibly work overseas.

The lecture showcased the exciting experience of an expanding solar panel manufacturing firm based in Zhuhai, which has initiated investment projects in Africa and Central Asia, both within and beyond the groundbreaking institutional framework of the ‘One Belt One Road’ strategy.

Reporter: Samuel Burgess (MPRO)
Photographer: Zheng Jinglin (Year 4, CCM)
Editor: Deen He (MPRO)
(with special thanks to the ELC, Deng Qi (Year 4, GIR))