Imagining a future without electricity shortages
As the country hunkers down for two weeks of severe electricity shortages due to Eskom’s aging infrastructure and compromised energy planning, a new vision for a future where such things do not happen was flighted in Cape Town.
South Africa 2035, a 10-minute animated film produced by the Cambridge Programme for Sustainability Leadership (CPSL), paints a picture of an alternative future – one where a Kilowatt hour of electricity costs just 10c even while carbon is taxed at R700 a ton.
In this future South Africa, the gap between rich and poor has also been narrowed, political and corporate power has been devolved and smart investments in education and renewable technologies have ensured a more equitable and prosperous life for all.
The film is inspired by the ideas of development economist Anton Cartwright and the late Peet du Plooy of the government think tank Trade & Investment Policies and Strategies (TIPS).
It is based on a live-format discussion about a future with carbon taxes, which took place at a side event of COP 17 in Durban in December 2011.
Peter Willis, South African Director of CPSL said that they decided to produce the film, partly as a tribute to Du Plooy, who was tragically murdered earlier this year, and partly to inspire people to think more broadly about the kind of future they want to move towards.
“Otto Sharmer in his book Theory U: Leading from the Emerging Future, suggests we now need leaders who will allow their actions to be guided (and informed) by the future that wants to emerge,” said Willis.
“This video captures the essence of a remarkably creative dialogue between Anton and Peet, where they ‘visited’ us from 2035 to tell us how things were working out in South Africa then, and sketched the path we took to get there.
“It made us all realise how seldom we apply our minds to imagining the future we want to live in, and how productive and encouraging it can be when we do.”
The film proposes, for instance, an extractive tax, which taxes industry for taking anything out of the ground for the first time, forcing them to think more about recycling and renewables.
It moots the “green gold fund” a commercially managed sovereign fund to invest carbon tax money in rapidly growing global green technology companies, the proceeds of which are then spent on education and basic services to improve the lives of all South Africans.
“Electricity crises such as we are experiencing now, like rising global temperatures, are symptoms of a system that is not working,” said Willis.
“Over the coming years we have to rethink and redesign the way we do pretty much everything.
“That makes for a fascinating time, bursting with opportunities. What’s missing, we feel, is a compass bearing on what kind of plausible future we want to create through all that re-design. That’s the work of foresight, grounded in everything we know about how the world actually functions.”
The film is available on you tube: http://www.youtube.com/user/CambridgeCPSL
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.