Is Africa missing out on US Free Trade Deal?
Officials from the US and a number of African countries will hold talks in Gabon following the recent renewal of the African Growth and Opportunities Act (AGOA).
AGOA was first signed in 2000 in order to boost in order to boost trade between the two blocs through the removal of tariffs and quota arrangements. Since then it has been renewed several times, recently having been extended by a decade.
Since inception, the act has faced criticism for being one-sided and not delivering the opportunities that have been promised. As much as 90 percent of the exports leaving Africa are comprised of natural resources, particularly oil, which increased by over 500 percent between 2000 and 2011.
The recent slump in commodities triggered by China’s yuan devaluation, alongside the recent AGOA renewal has called for a long hard look at what can offer, as well as what it has already achieved.
While the removal of quotas stimulated the growth of thousands of jobs in Southern Africa, the exposure to the global market also meant that these new operations would face competition from players outside of the country.
Trade has certainly been facilitated and statistics also suggest a positive balance of trade in favour of the AGOA countries; in 2008, the balance was $64,301,562 in favour. African exports to the United States rose to $26.8 billion in 2013.
Failure to diversify and industrialise has been cited as the two prime reasons for not getting the most out of the deal, which could also been seen as an attempt to explain the continued dominance of oil and raw materials exports.
SOURCE: [The Globe and Mail]
5 minutes with... Janthana Kaenprakhamroy, CEO, Tapoly
Founder and CEO of award-winning insurtech firm Tapoly, Janthana Kaenprakhamroy heads up Europe’s first on-demand insurance platform for the gig economy, winning industry awards, innovating in the digital insurance space, and leading with inclusivity.
Here, Business Chief talks to Janthana about her leadership style and skills.
What do you do, in a nutshell?
I’m founder and CEO of Tapoly, a digital MGA providing a full stack of commercial lines insurance specifically for SMEs and freelancers, as well as a SaaS solution to connect insurers with their distribution partners. We build bespoke, end-to-end platforms encompassing the whole customer journey, but can also integrate our APIs within existing systems. We were proud to win Insurance Provider of the Year at the British Small Business Awards 2018 and receive silver in the Insurtech category at the Efma & Accenture Innovation in Insurance Awards 2019.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I try to be as inclusive a leader as possible. I’m committed to creating space for everyone to shine. Many of the roles at Tapoly are performed by women and I speak at industry events to encourage more people to get involved in insurance/insurtech. Similarly, I always try to maintain a growth mindset. I think it’s important to retain values to support learning and development, like reliability, working hard and punctuality.
What’s the best leadership advice you’ve received?
Build your network and seek advice. As a leader, you need smart people around you to help you grow your business. It’s not about personally being the best, but being able to find resources and get help where needed.
How do you see leadership changing in a COVID world?
I think the pandemic has proven the importance of inclusive leadership so that everyone feels supported and valued. It’s also shown the importance of being flexible as a leader. We’ve had to remain adaptable to continue delivering high levels of customer service. This flexibility has also been important when supporting employees as everyone has had individual pressures to deal with during this time. Leaders should continue to embed this flexibility within their organisations moving forward.
They say ‘from every crisis comes opportunity’, what opportunities do you see?
The past year has been challenging, but it has also proven the importance of digital transformation in insurance. When working from home was required, it was much harder for insurers to adjust who had not embedded technology within their operating processes because they did not have data stored in the cloud and it caused communication delays with concerned customers at a time when this communication should have been a priority, which ultimately impacts the level of customer satisfaction. This demonstrates the importance of what we are trying to achieve at Tapoly in driving digitalisation in insurance and making communication between insurers and distribution partners seamless.
What advice would you give to your younger self just starting out in the industry?
Start sooner, don’t be afraid to take (calculated) risks and make sure you raise enough money to get you through the initial seed stage.