African Finance Corporation expands East African footprint
Rwanda and Uganda are the first East African countries to become members of Africa Finance Corporation (AFC) which is a development finance institution focused on infrastructure projects across the continent.
The AFC is aligning its country membership with its operational footprint, as part of its membership expansion strategy. Rwanda and Uganda, which both signed in November bring the Corporation’s total members to 13. Other members include: Cape Verde; Chad; Côte d’Ivoire; Gabon; the Gambia; Ghana; Guinea-Bissau; Guinea; Liberia; Nigeria and Sierra-Leone.
To date the Corporation has invested $2.6 billion in projects across 24 African countries in a range of sectors including power, telecoms, transport and logistics, natural resources and heavy industries.
Andrew Alli, the AFC’s Chief Executive Officer commented: “By improving the infrastructure of these fast-emerging East African economies we hope to facilitate closer intraregional trade links, a goal that can only be achieved if the adequate transport, telecommunications networks and power supply are in place. This is where AFC steps in, and we are excited by the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.
“Lack of essential infrastructure remains a critical constraint across Africa; for example, over 620 million people do not have access to reliable electricity. AFC works closely with both public and private institutions to develop innovative financing solutions for large scale infrastructure projects in Africa and oversees the whole project cycle, from concept to completion.”
The IMF predicts that Uganda and Rwanda will maintain positive GDP growth rates over the coming years - 5.6 percent and 7 percent respectively.
The government of Uganda is planning to implement a $11 billion program over the next ten years to upgrade the country’s power and transport infrastructure, which will make use of both the public sector, as well as private sector partners.
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Matia Kasaija, Uganda’s Minister of Finance, Planning and Economic Development said: “Uganda is pleased to be one of the first East African countries to become members. AFC is bringing innovation to the development and financing of infrastructure on the continent. In line with the EAC’s strategy of ensuring that Partner States’ provide basic infrastructure as one of the Operational Principles of the Community, we are looking forward to stronger presence of AFC in the East African region and particularly in Uganda.
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.