[Video] Africans need to invest in Africa to build confidence among investors
Picture: copyright World Economic Forum/Benedict von Loebell
Africa's prosperity can only be driven by inclusive growth strategies that create jobs and include all Africans.
Panellists in the opening plenary of the 24th World Economic Forum on Africa agreed that the opportunities are enormous, but many countries still need a conducive business environment, infrastructure and the right skills.
Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, President of Nigeria, told participants that the need to create jobs is a global problem.
In Africa, the unemployment problem is compounded by its youthful population and pending demographic transition.
The President said: “An additional 112 million workers will enter Africa's labour force by 2020 … this is daunting and should be a wake-up call to all of us in Africa to work harder on job creation with a great sense of urgency.”
Job creation is the main focus of Nigeria's Transformation Agenda, the nation's plan to modernize and diversify the Nigerian economy by focusing on priority sectors such as agriculture, manufacturing, housing and construction, and the services sectors.
“We are working to unlock the obstacles faced by businesses so they create jobs,” Jonathan added. “We must ensure there is a maximum inclusiveness through creating opportunities for people to create opportunities for themselves.”
In a special address, Li Keqiang, Premier of the People's Republic of China, pledged continuing cooperation and will prioritise infrastructure development.
“We will work with Africa to upgrade and build transport infrastructure to promote connectivity on the African continent.” This includes a high-speed railway, a network of expressways and an aviation network.
China also plans to “vigorously advance” the African Talents Program, providing 18,000 scholarships to African students and training 30,000 African professionals. Training schemes will also be offered by China's enterprises and Confucius Institutes in Africa.
“China will step up its investment and financing cooperation with Africa by providing an additional $10 billion in credit to make its pledged credit line a total of $30 billion,” Li said. "[We will add] another $2 billion to make the China-Africa Development Fund a total of $5 billion.”
The Chinese government will also provide Africa with $10 million to protect its wildlife and biodiversity and promote sustainable development across the continent.
Africa's corporate environment is conducive to doing business, argued Aliko Dangote, President and Chief Executive Officer, Dangote Group, Nigeria; Co-Chair of the World Economic Forum on Africa. “People talk only about the bad side, but there are lots of opportunities,” he said.
Dangote added that Nigeria and many other countries create opportunities for capital allowance, zero duty and valued-added tax on machinery, as well as tax holidays.
His company took the risk of investing in Nigeria. “The biggest challenge today is that some [Africans] would rather keep money abroad. You are not creating confidence. You must invest your own money to encourage foreign investors.”
Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda, said Rwanda has flourished by encouraging the private sector to “do what they know the best” but, at the same time, make a difference in people's lives.
He said: “You can get impressive growth rates by a few companies, but it is not a zero-sum game where people grow at the expense of others … policies to encourage inclusive growth and create jobs must be driven by political will.”
Rwanda invested in universal healthcare, education and vocational and technical training. Investments in agriculture, for example, have lifted one million people out of poverty.
The 24th World Economic Forum on Africa is being held in Abuja, Nigeria, and the three day conference concludes today. The theme of the meeting is Forging Inclusive Growth, Creating Jobs.
The Co-Chairs of the meeting are Dominic Barton, Managing Director, McKinsey & Company, United Kingdom; Jean-François van Boxmeer, Chairman of the Executive Board and Chief Executive Officer, Heineken, Netherlands; Aliko Dangote, President and Chief Executive Officer, Dangote Group, Nigeria; Bineta Diop, President, Femmes Africa Solidarité, Switzerland; Jabu A. Mabuza, Chairman, Telkom Group, South Africa; Sunil Bharti Mittal, Chairman, Bharti Enterprises, India; John Rice, Vice-Chairman, GE, Hong Kong SAR
Video courtesy of World Economic Forum
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.