Seven reasons why Africa will remember Barack Obama
1. He travelled to Africa several times
In total, Obama took four trips to Africa and visited seven African countries – more than any other US president. Additionally, he became the only sitting US president to visit Kenya and Ethiopia.
2. He boosted military support on the continent
Cameroon, Chad and Somalia benefited from increased military support from the US. During the his administration, Obama aimed to fight al-Shabab and Boko Haram, establishing military outposts in more than 10 African nations. Obama’s predecessor, George Bush, started drone strikes against alleged Islamic militants in Somalia. Obama continued these during his presidency. His actions are not without comment - several of his military operations have attracted criticism from human rights organisations.
3. He launched Power Africa
President Obama initiated Power Africa in 2013, with the aim to double electricity access for sub-Saharan Africans using renewable energy. The target was to add 30,000 megawatts by 2030, but has only generated 2,000 megawatts so far. Despite this criticism, energy businesses operating in Africa say the program has boosted investor confidence.
4. He hosted the inaugural US-Africa Leaders’ Summit
In 2014, 50 African leaders travelled to Washington DC for the first ever US-Africa Leaders’ Summit. At the conference, the president announced a £33 billion package of public and private investment. Announced policies stressed ‘trade rather than aid’, i.e. a shift from humanitarianism to sustainable growth.
5. He failed to cleanly surpass Bush’s effort
In 2013, Sudanese philanthropist Mo Ibrahim said there had been “a gradual but continuous withdrawal of the U.S. from Africa … all the more disconcerting that it is happening even when a son of our continent is in the White House”. Under Bush's administration, US aid to sub-Saharan African states increased four-fold, from $1 billion in 2002 to $8.1 billion in 2010, according to the Congressional Research Service. However, this figure rose to an estimated $9bn (£7.2bn) under Obama, maintaining the US’ place as Africa’s largest bilateral donor.
6. He increased HIV treatment and started up hospitals for Ebola victims
Obama increased the number of people receiving treatment for HIV/AIDS from 1.7 million in 2008 to 6.7 million by 2013. In 2014, he deployed 3,000 US military workers to build hospitals in Liberia in order to to treat Ebola victims.
7. He did not expand the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA)
AGOA is a US trade act set up by the Bush administration in 2000. The legislation aims to enhance market access to the US for qualifying sub-Saharan African countries. In 2015, 52 percent of African exports to America consisted of oil and gas. This is seen as a disappointment to those who believe that Africa shouldn’t rely on unstable, commodity-driven deals, and should instead be increasing trade in areas such as technology and healthcare.
Source: AFK Insider
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.