EAC leaders seek out major investment
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Leaders from the East African Community (EAC) have met with investors to discuss rolling out major infrastructure investments that will connect the region and pave the way for further economic development.
The EAC, comprising Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda, is an initiative to create a large trading block within the continent through the establishment of a harmonised common market. Their economies have a combined worth of over $100 billion.
This meeting is likely to attract major investors, since significant hydrocarbon deposits were recently discovered across the region. It will therefore be the general aim to speed up trade in this newly found wealth in an effort to stimulate the economies within the trading block.
The EAC has a strategy to invest between $68 and $100 billion from 2015-2025 to build roads, ports, railways, transmission lines and oil and gas infrastructure. This massive infrastructure funding plan will not only greatly facilitate the export of natural resources from the region, but will also lay the foundation for increasing employment.
Tanzania is planning to connect land-locked Zambia, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and Democratic Republic of the Congo to its Dar es Salaam port through an extensive railway line that will enable a simplified transport corridor. Talks have already taken place between Tanzanian transport officials and a Canrail, a Canadian rail engineering consultant.
Alongside Tanzania, Kenya has made plans to develop wider links with its port at Mombasa and hasten its port project at Lamu. Perhaps inspired by these initiatives, it has been rumoured that the Democratic Republic of Congo and Zambia have pledged support to the creation of a central corridor.
If the EAC can obtain the funding it needs for its ambitious infrastructure projects then this could be the start of a major shift towards greater industrialisation and economic diversity for the region.
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.