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World Economic Forum: Disruption in Africa

Sneha Shah  Managing Director, Sub-Saharan Africa, Thomson Reuters

Sneha Shah  Managing Director, Sub-Saharan Africa, Thomson Reuters

It has never been a more exciting time to be in Africa. And that excitement was never more tangible than at the recent World Economic Forum, held in Rwanda. The continent is collectively waking up to the challenges it needs to overcome to lead the Fourth Industrial Revolution and reach its maximum potential.

Africa is no longer looking to the rest of the world for their answers. Instead, they are creating their own through disruptive and transformative technologies. And many of these have the potential to answer global challenges around big topics such as financial inclusion, risk and compliance and land rights.

Of course, with over 160 years of experience on the continent, Thomson Reuters is well positioned to help make this happen through our global footprint and expertise. Not only are we about to launch an Innovation Lab in Cape Town in October this year alongside our flagship Africa Summit, but we are also tirelessly working with the continent’s governments, corporations, banks, technology providers, startups and citizens to build a sustainable ecosystem for transformative change.

Disruption is often viewed in a negative light amongst these stakeholders because it impacts the few existing structures that Africa has, but as its potential to change entire economies becomes more evident, we are seeing more problems solved in Africa through technology than we have seen in the last twenty.

Particularly promising is the innovation currently happening in financial services to move to inclusive and sustainable cashless economies, which as they evolve in complexity, will require KYC (Know Your Customer) and AML (Anti-Money Laundering) systems and processes to scale and avoid financial crime, terrorist financing and money laundering risks. Some great examples of these innovations include M-Akiba in Kenya, which will be the first retail government bond available to buy on mobile phones and Paga, a payments company in Nigeria.

Land right transparency is another area where disruption is solving a challenge that has often slowed down economic progress. Land is one of the largest assets on this continent when it comes to its agricultural use as well as its potential to drive revenue generation for governments through property taxes. In many countries, banks are reluctant to use title deeds as collateral and the potential of cutting edge technologies such as blockchain to revolutionize this area is huge – pilot programs such as Bitland in Ghana are going to change the landscape of mortgage and commercial development markets forever.

There are many more examples of disruptors transforming entire markets from maternal healthcare to on-demand package delivery services, from online insurance to internet connectivity, from clean energy to alternative waste management, from transportation to mobile funding and beyond. The list continues and expands daily.

And as the number of African start ups rises, so are the number of young millennial entrepreneurs growing, wanting to do things differently. They are passionate about their causes, they are hungry to succeed and they are taking destiny into their own hands to create social change and economic reform. Our organization is uniquely placed to tap into this talent by helping them align their passion with our purpose of empowering Africa’s success and together, we can truly help make disruption the answer for Africa.

Learn more

Aumentum OpenTitle – Easy to use software for documenting land rights.

Thomson Reuters Org ID – A global KYC managed service.

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