Morocco launches Africa's first high speed train
Africa’s first high-speed rail line has been launched in Morocco, with the President of France and the King of Morocco inaugurating the line.
On 15 November, President Emmanuel Macron and King Mohamed VI launched the train, which can travel at speeds of 320kph.
The train, named LGV, was launched in the nation’s northern city of Tangeir. The line will be able to connect Tangier and Casablanca in two hours and 10 minutes – the previous journey was just under five hours.
The King and the President boarded the train in Tangier and travelled to the country’s capital, Rabat.
The US$2bn project was established in 2011 by the King of Morocco and the then President of France, Nicolas Sarkozy.
France provided financing for 51% of the project, with Morocco funding 28% of the rail line, and the remaining 21% was contributed by Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and the UAE.
Macron has regarded the train line as a “flagship project of the bilateral relationship between France and Morocco.”
“This inauguration is a significant milestone for this prestigious project, which will allow Moroccan people to benefit from an incredible passenger experience thanks to our reliable, safe and comfortable Avelia very high-speed trains,” stated Henri Poupart-Lafarge, Chairman and CEO of Alstom, which provided 12 high-speed trains to the Office National des Chemins de Fer Marocain (ONFC).
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.