Sat. Apr 20th, 2019

Interview with H.E. Ameenah Gurib-Fakim – Former President of Mauritius, Founder of AGF Foundation | Humans of Blockchain

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Welcome to our comprehensive interview series – Humans of Blockchain  where we get the best in the business to answer diverse questions.

This series will clear the air of doubt in the blockchain space today by focusing on bringing more transparency to the readers.

Our guest, today, is  Ameenah Gurib-Fakim, Founder of AGF Foundation, Former President of Mauritius. She answered all our questions with patience and detail.

Ameenah is an experienced politician who, after successfully administrating a Country, has now started her own Foundation promoting Education, Women and overall Development through Technology. 

Not wasting much time, let’s hear it out from Ameenah herself.

 

 

1. What got you into the Blockchain Segment? Introduction

I am already working on a project with MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) on the Protection of Traditional Knowledge using Decentralized Technologies like Blockchain. Why it’s important towards having this kind of an approach for Africa is perhaps the only continent where information has not been subjected or documented as in China or India. So, if we do that, we want to create the entire profile so that this documentation is protected and also the Intellectual properties are safeguarded. Because at the end of the day Scientists will always go back to Asia to be able to source new leads and if we do that, we protect the IP (Intellectual Property), we ensure that the plant is also protected and this will ensure stability for the valuable resource.

 

2. Mauritius is going to be a part of the top Jurisdictions up for innovation in the Blockchain Industry. Could you explain more on how this pathway was built up to this stage? / Any Future upgrades needed for Jurisdictional laws on development?

First of all, Mauritius is very keen on Financial Technologies (FinTech). The Financial Sector has played a very important role in our economy and it’s over 12 percent, but if you look at the aggregate industry, it can go up even more. So, we have some simple practices which we have put in place and I think within the Fintech (Industry) because it’s growing so fast, we’d like to end up with the simple approach. But definitely, this is something that we are putting into place because we are very keen to see emerging markets and the adoption for such technologies is growing in Mauritius.

 

3. What shortcomings (Blockchain) are up for improvement according to your Views?

Blockchain is still perceived to be monolithic to those who don’t understand it, so it has been compact. The entire sector has to be compact because whenever people think of Blockchain, they think of Cryptocurrency and they get the wrong approach to things. This is something that needs to be corrected and we need to make it understandable for the common economy. Also, the problem is that the Policy Makers may not be that tech-savvy and they cannot pass the correct policies for the type of technology. Education!

 

4. What is your outlook towards the Blockchain Industry for the year 2019?

It’s not just the Blockchain Industry, I think technology as a whole because if you look at the U.N. sustainability goal, for the first time, they recognize the importance of science and technology in the economic environment. Now if you look at the refugees, they are moving because of Climate Change, then you think, How to actually put a face to that person? This is where the technology comes in. How do you ensure sustainability in our resources? Fishing, Agriculture, you name it, still need the transparency that a system provides. So it’s there, but it is a matter of leveraging that with all the sectors and if you want to make governments accountable by 2030, well then, we should have started yesterday.

 

5. What steps is the Mauritius Government taking to embrace the ongoing technology revolution?

Mauritius had started diversifying its economy since the 1990s, because before it was depended on sugar (about 92%) and currently it is less than 5%. We hence diversified into the financial sector and have restored close collaboration with India in the financial sector. Now we are at the crossroads to identify means of making this sector even more productive. And fintech presents a huge potential in terms of further diversify the economy of  Mauritius.

 

6. How is Mauritius taking on the responsibility of adhering to the Sustainable Development Goals ?

We all have ratified the SDGs in 2015 and the world gave itself 15 years to leave no one behind. And, if you look at the 17 SDGs, you’ll find some key words that come up very strongly like Removal of Poverty, Education, Women empowerment and the Transformative power of Science and Technology. So, if we address all these, we are heading towards a better world.

But the reality is what it is, and we find that the African continent is very badly impacted with climate change. So, there is a lot to be done and we need to catch up quickly in order to be able to address the SDGs. Science and Technology can be leveraged to address these goals, eg. people who are unbanked can be financially included by providing access to credit, cash using blockchain technology.

 

7. Being an island, the rising sea levels are a threat to Mauritius. What are your views about the situation?

Well, we are already on the World Risk Report and this concern is definitely there. But this is something that even if we act on a national level, it will not make any big difference. This is where we call for a global consensus and a global solidarity. Adapting to the climate change would be challenge to us for the next few years.

 

8. What is Mauritius doing to promote the inflow of businesses and people for development purposes?

Being a small nation, we have no choice. So we like to encourage diaspora and talent because we have a small population ( about 1/10th the size of Mumbai). Hence, we are encouraging overseas businesses and talent to come in Mauritius and get established and our responsibility is ensure that the system is regulated and we keep on moving with our reputation of accelerating ease of doing business. So, we are making sure that the conditions are there which are favourable to people who come to work in Mauritius.

 

9. Any last motivational words for the young minds engaging in this new innovative environment?

I think that the young minds are there and we need the young people, now this is where again, Africa has got a huge advantage, because we have an average age of 18-20, 18 years and some countries have it from 15 years and this is where we need to have empowerment and by 2035, I think, Africa would be the largest supplier in terms of Workforce. So, this is where the empowerment comes in, this is my message to all the stakeholders – Empower them with Education! Empower them with Technology!

 

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