How Can Technology Innovation Accelerate the Path Towards Prosperity in Emerging Economies?

How Can Technology Innovation Accelerate the Path Towards Prosperity in Emerging Economies?

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[music] Good evening, everyone. Welcome to this breakout session. Thank you so much for joining us. Right now, we will aim to discuss how technological innovation can bolster prosperity and accelerate the growth of emerging economies.

We have an excellent cohort of panelists, which we'll go through in two different panels later. Before we begin, we'll hear a few comments from Engineer Omar Al-Ansari. He's the Secretary General of QRDI Council. Thank you for joining us, and let's begin.

[applause] Bismillah as-salaam-alaikum rahmatullah. Good afternoon. I'm very happy to be here with you today. A very warm welcome to many of you who are visiting us from abroad to the third edition of the Qatar Economic Forum. Welcome to Qatar. Perhaps the best way to kickstart a conversation about leveraging new technologies in emerging markets is to give you an example of leveraging new technologies in an emerging market. Qatar is an emerging market.

Generative AI is a new technology. I asked ChatGPT to give me a joke that I can use in today's opening remarks. I asked it, and it responded, "Why did the emerging market startup hire a magician? Because they needed someone who could turn their limited resources into unlimited possibilities." Maybe not the funniest of jokes from ChatGPT, but I think the moral of the story is do we really need to use magic to realize unlimited possibilities from our emerging economies? I hope in the chat today, we'll conclude that maybe it's not so much magic, but certain work that we need to put in.

The topic of the session then is very important, especially given the uncertainties of today; global financial instability, climate change, wars, and potentially out-of-control AI, we don't know. Emerging economies, we know, are extra sensitive to these global uncertainties. For emerging economies, these uncertainties represent potentially new obstacles towards us achieving our national goals, our aspirations, and overcoming our challenges. QRDI or the Qatar Research Development and Innovation Council in Qatar is also an organization mandated and working towards advancing the science, technology, and innovation agenda in Qatar, but we never view our mandate only with a local lens.

After all, in our mission, we strive to achieve this by empowering locally, but also being globally connected. What does globally connected mean to us in Qatar? It means that, for example, our universities are open to international students from all over the world, especially from emerging economies; Pakistan, Bangladesh, Morocco, Egypt, Rwanda, Mongolia, and for the first time this year as well, even from countries that I never learned about when I was a child, such as Eswatini and Lesotho, for example. It also means that our scientific researchers, funded by our own Qatar National Research Fund, collaborate with their international peers across the world, but most certainly in emerging markets to address challenges that are relevant to their markets and their people. It means that multinationals such as Iberdrola and Total are building regional R&D hubs in Doha, attracting top regional scientists, engineers, designers, and other R&D professionals to innovate new solutions that are relevant to their region and to the world.

For us at QRDI, technology is always a means to an end, and that end should be about making lives better for more and more people. Within the hands of positive change-makers, technology is a powerful enabler. The transformative power of innovative solutions powered by emerging technologies and new business models has the potential to unlock previously unimaginable pathways towards sustainable development and prosperity for us all. I look forward to the panel's discussions today, and I hope that it is just the beginning of a more fruitful conversation and potentially productive partnerships and a realization that maybe it's not just about magic, that we can do a lot in this area.

Thank you very much. [applause] Thank you so much, Ahmad, for these words. I think it's an excellent introduction to our panel. This first one will focus on leveraging innovation in emerging economies and will aim to decipher the trends, opportunities, and challenges that emerging economies pose for tech startups as well as investors. Please welcome my panelists to the stage.

First off, we have Mattias Rebellious, who is the Global Chief Executive Officer at Siemens Smart Infrastructure. Thank you. [applause] We also have Courtney Powell, Chief Operating Officer and managing partner at 500 Global. [applause] Dr. Ola Brown, founding partner of Healthcare Capital Africa. [applause] Of course, Navin Gupta, who is the managing director of South Asia and Middle East at Ripple.

[applause] As I promised you, this is an excellent cohort. I will spare no time. Let's kick off our questions. Addressing that key theme that I just mentioned, what are the opportunities and challenges that emerging economies pose to technology companies and technologies, as well as the investors? Matthias, what's your outlook on that? -That's a broad question, of course. -It's very broad.

I'm representing here Siemens, which is, since 1847, we are addressing emerging markets and emerging countries with our emerging technologies. We have also developed ourselves into a different company over years. How do we do this and why is this important to emerging markets? We are a technology company, so we are leveraging technology for a purpose. The purpose of today is about, of course, we all talk about digitalization and ChatGPT giving jokes or speeches or whatever. This is just a means of doing something better. We have to manage complexity in existing markets and emerging markets by using digitalization to drive sustainability.

How do we get the best knowledge and the best resources into these teams? We do this leveraging for emerging technologies in five different ways. Either you have a startup within the company, where you have to manage it differently. Also in a large corporation like ours, manage it like a startup in the company.

Or you acquire a startup, new technology, and incorporate this into the existing development or the corporation. On the other side also, we have Next47 which is a venture arm for Siemens where we, like a corporate venture capital, work with startups, develop them, challenge them, and leverage their technology. Not all of them will be success, and that is important too. Allow also failure.

The other ones, the two remaining ones, are going as a joint venture, for example, which we did also here with Capton Energy in the Emirates for the region to develop solar power, for example. Venture capital is something where we then can incorporate or just work together in creative customers who-- About partnering, no one, no company can do it alone. We need to partner with them and then addressing new markets like also, for example, Swedish startup where we work together also for the region to drive technology and development in the Middle East.

Excellent. Taking that and building on it, Courtney, you work with 500 different companies globally. Comparing developed markets to emerging markets, where do they shine and where can there be -a little bit more development? -Sure. 500 Global is an early-stage venture capital firm, and we've actually invested in nearly 3,000 companies across 80 different countries. We've had a long history of investing not just in the US but globally.

That was really a decision based upon the belief that there is incredible talent in so many emerging markets that was just looking for access to capital, access to new markets, to be able to grow businesses that support not just the technological innovation that is so incredible that we see out of these startups, but they're true contributors to GDP. We are interested in investing globally because we see founders who create companies that create jobs within their local economies. From a financial perspective, as a financial investor, it's incredibly rewarding as well.

Across our portfolio today, we have over 50 companies valued at over $1 billion dollars, and half of those companies have come from outside the US. It's certainly not a developmental decision or initiative, it's a financial position, and we've seen extraordinary growth across startups in so many different markets, including here in the Middle East. Amazing. Dr. Ola, when we were speaking before the panel, you had some very interesting thoughts and I'd like to run through that again, especially the role of tech in emerging markets in global growth really, and how much of a contributor that is to GDP.

Fantastic, and really great question and something that I'm obviously really passionate about. I ran HealthCap Africa, I'm a recovering medical physician [laughs] now works in finance, and HealthCap invests in the big four African markets. We invest in Egypt, we invest in South Africa, we invest in Nigeria, and we invest in Kenya. Together, they make up 50% of African GDP. They're also the largest consumer markets.

We invest in pre-series A in two sectors; healthcare and financial technology. In terms of the opportunity-- and I love talking about opportunities, historically, Africa's focused on hard infrastructure; bridges, roads, airports, power stations. This is where the largest proportion of investment has gone.

I think that's interesting because these are the things that we thought would lift those 1 billion people currently living in poverty, out of poverty. This is what we thought would create the most jobs. Unfortunately, the data actually tells a very different story. In America, only 0.2% of GDP goes into venture capital,

but venture capital-backed companies are responsible for almost 25% of the economy. Almost a quarter of the American economy has come from only 0.2% of money going into venture. Venture has a huge, huge bang for the buck, if you know what I mean. A huge effect on the economy, even though it's a really relatively small amount in terms of allocation. A big opportunity that I see in Africa is the exponential growth in mobile and internet access. I think it's one of the fastest-developing consumer markets in the world.

In terms of venture capital per capita, in Singapore, the per capita, per person, there's about $1,000 of venture capital invested per person in Singapore. In most parts of Africa, it's $1 or $2, but if you look at the number of unicorns in Singapore and Africa, same. We'll probably have more unicorns in Africa than Singapore going forward. For a tiny amount of venture capital, you see a huge amount of really big companies. When I finished my rotation in clinical medicine, I lived in Tokyo. The biggest shock moving from Tokyo to Africa was the growth rates.

In Japan right now, they sell more adult diapers than baby diapers. In terms of demographics, they're shrinking in population. Moving from Japan to a country like Nigeria that is growing up 4%, absolutely blew my mind. There were more babies born in Nigeria this year than in the whole of Europe.

The opportunity in terms of the consumer market in emerging markets really, really excites me. I think it reminds me of when countries like China and Vietnam were entering that rapid growth stage. I see that inflection point happening for Africa as well. In terms of the opportunity, I think for the markets that I invest in, it's around the venture capital per capita and that arbitrage opportunity. A very small amount of money doing very big things.

It's around the explosion in mobile money. It's around the explosion in population. During the COVID pandemic, I had to dabble back into medicine again because there was a shortage of doctors. In states like Florida, for example, you're seeing the average age of 60 in some American states. The average age in Africa is 19. All of these things point us in the direction of probably what I call the last frontier for rapid growth in the world, and that's what really excites me.

And in financial technology particularly, this is an area that we invest in; FinTech and HealThtech only. We see actually a comparative and competitive advantage in financial technology, Africa as a spiritual home, I would say, of FinTech, the first real mobile money applications really in innovation, in banking infrastructure. Companies like M-Pesa really changed the game in terms of the first real digital currency in the world.

Because of these reasons, I'm super excited about the opportunities in digital. Excellent, thank you. Navine, I think you work in quite a different sector than everyone else works in. Walk me through.

I think blockchain has so much room to grow here, but also the challenges, I'm sure, there are plenty in the emerging economies. True. Let's just take a very simple example because this will be relevant to everybody here in the room. Is just a cost for SME. If you look at an SME in a country, generally they would pay 15%, 20% in an emerging market.

In a more developed market, they'll pay 5%, 6% in terms of cost of capital. This has been true for the last 100 years since this has been around; small companies in an emerging market pay more. Now, let's look at the problem that we are trying to solve, for example, cross-border remittances. Today, Oman, which is quite close to Qatar, let's assume somebody from Qatar is a buyer. They're buying, from a farm in Oman, 200 tons of tomatoes, and easily tomatoes can come probably next day they'll get delivered here in Qatar. The money, when it moves from Qatar, from SAR to Oman rial, it'll take three days.

Let's assume you are the supplier and your terms are net 30 days. That means, as a supplier, in Oman, you'll receive the money on the 33rd day. Which means that you'd lose 36 days of working capital in a year. Now if we were to eliminate that by just making remittances instant to people where they need most, then you would eliminate and add 36 days of working capital with that supplier.

Suddenly, with the same amount of money, you get 10% more productivity because you get one month more of working capital that can essentially go through the system where you can have better profits and you can essentially generate more money on the capital that is invested, lowering your cost of capital and productivity increases. These are the things that we are bringing to bear in terms of blockchain to say, "Hey, how do we eliminate friction that today essentially forces or does not allow smaller players, SMEs, to go global? Though physically they're able to, they just have to drive across the border, at least in the GCC, and to sell their goods but through artificial friction like friction remittances, they're not able to get their money in time. How to make that more productive and use the power to blockchain to do it. These are tons of other practical examples as well where blockchain can be used for good and its power can be harnessed by people on the ground every day. Excellent. It's such a fascinating world, and we'll talk more about it, I'm sure.

Matthias, to you, I come back. I think, Siemens, being the giant company that it is, you have a lot of different partnerships. I think partnerships is a very important theme in how we can bolster tech innovation and emerging markets that can help them grow.

What role can partnerships between venture capitalists, tech investors, governments, and companies like yours play in that framework? I try to give that already in the first answer a little bit saying that how we do it in working together with startups, with venture capital on our own or with others, it's about partnering, about the also learning from other sectors. Going into emerging markets, in the past it was, oh, I think 10 years, 20 years ago, you took the older technology and you brought it somewhere and said, "It's good enough for the purpose." Now it's the opposite. Now to be fast and with the growth in population, you need the best technology. That is not a contradiction anymore. This is, for me, also very inspiring and exciting for a company like ours to work with partners.

In the example, what I wanted to say before is the Swedish startup, which is a Wayout, they make containers for water conservation. We can standardize also the use of clean water out of every source of wastewater you have. You can create clean drinking water. A resources, which is scarce, which is important, all over the place, and also especially in emerging markets.

What we do there is we provide the technology, and this technology is not all tech. That's the modern SCADA system. This is even action cloud-based controllers because sometimes you are in rural areas or remote but you nevertheless want to have the data, you want to work also remotely because we are not always present everywhere ourselves. Bringing new technology into emerging markets, solving a very relevant need, and in this case, either be it, as I said before about renewable energy with solar investments or with hydrogen, with vertical farming for food scarcity or food supply and food security, I should say, or even then now the example with water. The combination of technology with a purpose, what we can bring to the table, and partnering.

Partnering, to come back to your question, is very important. No company can do it alone. Also, not giant companies, as you called us, which was not the expression I would use.

It's about technology companies and open for partners, and that's also what we are here to invite others. That's why we also participating in such panels and such forums, to find partners and to see who can jump onto our platforms, which are more open than in the past. How easy is it to find these talents in emerging economies and even the region? On talent development, it is the same. We just signed an MOU also here today with Qatar [?] go into education, internships.

We want to have local talents that we build out on our technologies that then go work in the countries, but also abroad. We do this also in India. You were talking about the young population and growing population in Nigeria. It's not so much different in Egypt.

It's not so much different in India, which is now the largest single population in the world where we have a local presence, and we tap the, as Siemens, also the infrastructure in these countries. We need talent locally and we developed and therefore it's very much important to invest also in education, in research centers. The other part of today was the discussion about an engineering and design center.

Localized technology based on a global platform. Here again, digitalization enables us to work together in a much more networked and global way than it was in the past. Excellent. For you, Courtney, how do you work on talent development? Also, going back to that question on partnerships, -what does that look like to you? -Yes. I think partnerships are so critical, especially with regard to emerging markets. 500, of course, is a venture capital investor, but because we have been investing for so many years in nascent and emerging markets, we have found a lot of success partnering with governments to help design a pathway to accelerate a startup ecosystem.

When we are coming into a market, we're not just looking to deploy capital, we're also working with the government on the policy platforms and the regulatory frameworks that need to exist in order to enable startups to not just start, but also ultimately get access to sandboxes, to exit, et cetera. We're looking at what the local capacity-building needs are with regard to venture capital, angel investors, even family offices that are all really important parts of investors into a startup ecosystem. Ultimately, first, we're looking to build a local team. We want a sustainable startup ecosystem to result from the work that we're contributing to.

We spend a lot of time partnered with governments to understand what the gaps are, and then partnering with other corporates and education systems to make sure that there is a real capacity to have a sustainable ecosystem. In fact, we actually partnered with Next47 in Mumbai to create capacity there with regard to corporate venture capital in India. A lot of incredible partnerships are what makes an ecosystem work, and I think it's more important than ever, especially in fast-growing markets like we're seeing here across the Middle East and Africa, all of these things are really critical. Amazing. Ola, for you, what's your experience in Africa, building those partnerships, and what does that look like? I'll say that there's two really interesting partnerships that I think are important. Number one is foreign direct investment and institutional investment partnerships.

I think, back to the days when America was building its infrastructure, a lot of the money came from Europe and people didn't quite appreciate that. A lot of the money came actually from the financial centers. It was moved from all over Europe into the financial centers of London and Paris, and then physically shipped in cash right across the sea to America. Bankers like J.P.

Morgan made their name because they could intermediate those relationships between large European institutional investors and families. He could deploy it to railroads, and bridges, and whatever they were building in America. The reason why people trusted J.P. Morgan

was that they knew that they would get their money back. He was in charge of actually, when profits were made, putting the money back on a ship in physical cash and shipping it back to London, and then using the intermediaries to get back to Germany or France or wherever. The complexity of the process of foreign investment is a lot more simple today than it was then, but I think that the fundamentals are still the same. There are boring, low ROI markets, where they're not as dynamic as emerging markets, where you can make stable returns. To get that more dynamism and higher ROI in a portfolio, there's a need to invest in emerging markets, exactly like the European investors did 100 years ago.

I think that that's where you can get those alpha returns. I think partnering with international institutions for growth in Africa, both from a returns perspective and from an impact perspective, is a really essential partnership and a really essential source of partnering. The reliability of those partners and fund managers is also important. Track record is important, reputation is important, as important as it was 100 years ago. Then the second is government. I think that people really underestimate the importance of sovereigns when building a technology ecosystem.

In America, for example, the US government is estimated is an investor in 25% of all the money that goes into early-stage startups comes directly or indirectly from the US government. Even in the UK, publicly-funded university systems, for instance. I recently read that Cambridge University, which receives public funding, is a larger contributor to the UK economy than the European Premier League. You can see that the research and development and innovation that comes out of the university system that is publicly funded is actually a huge contributor to economic growth. Partnering with government is absolutely essential, and even in my own industry, healthcare, 75% of new drug molecules developed in the US are funded on the back of some government grant or loan. One of the most exciting things in health tech now is the advent of personalized medicine.

Medicine, when I was doing medicine, was about doing the least amount of harm. We give the same drug to absolutely every single person and hope it works for most people, but some people have terrible drug reactions, or some people die, but most people will be okay. Since I was in medical school, we've started looking at more personalized approaches to medicine, looking at medicine design for people's specific genomics.

The American government spent about $3.8 billion on the human genome project, mapping the entire human genome. Since then, people have been building drugs and startups and pieces of the health tech ecosystem on the back of that American government spending.

That $3.8 billion has now produced over $1 trillion in activity in the ecosystem in terms of health tech. Unless the American government had put in that initial money, the entire ecosystem that has been built in genomics and personalized medicine probably wouldn't have been built because I don't think any private sector player would've necessarily taken that kind of risk.

If you think about it, 25% of early-stage funding, 75% of new drug molecules, all of these mega projects, even if you think about Google, Tesla, Amazon, at some point, they've all collected American government money. If you think about SpaceX, for example, 10% of NASA's budget goes to SpaceX. The government as a customer, the government as an investor, the government as an investor in private universities, is absolutely essential.

I would say that American taxpayers are probably the biggest investors in technology. [laughs] Unfortunately, they're not getting any carry. -[laughs] -Yes, that's actually a very interesting point.

Going to that government being super important, Navin, how does that look like when it comes to blockchain regulation? Still in very early stages, I would argue, but you know better. You can just walk us a little bit through how that looks like for you. Yes. Let's look example of Silicon Valley. I was in the valley in 2000 when it was taking off. It had three ingredients; first, it had money, it had talent, but also for the internet, America had the best regulations. Most of the internet companies could essentially ship their goods free of sale tax from any state in the world.

They had actually an advantage over goods being physically [?] and enabling regulation does help for our industry to leapfrog or at least give it some, let's call it core area where it can essentially succeed. That's true about Blockchain as well, all emerging techs, it could be AI, it could be Blockchain, or others. Right now there is you can call it regulatory arbitrage, or regulatory positioning that's happening across, let's say, money centers around the world. For example, Singapore, UAE, UK, Europe with MiCA is hugely progressive. America is not, for example, for Blockchain, just as an example. Regulation is very important, particularly for emerging tech to essentially let hundreds of entrepreneurs succeed, where the intention is correct, and the output is a little bit unknown.

If that doesn't happen, and had that not happened in America, we wouldn't have had Silicon Valley to the scale and size in terms of what we see today. To me, regulation, and not just regulation, very progressive regulation, letting firms experiment, letting firms scale up, letting firms die is critical to the success, and some countries will get it right and some countries will not. The time of our panel is approaching to a close. I will do something a bit different for this last question. Very briefly, I'd like to hear from each and every one of you what you think are the under-penetrated sectors in emerging markets that we can use tech to help bolster. It's something that I'm sure you'd look at many different sectors, Matthias, what does that look like for you? For us, of course, what I do see is where investment is being needed is definitely on the terms of the electrification of the world because that is where everything starts.

It's about the grid expansion, it's about renewable expansion, it's about intelligent leverage of it. Grid management, so that is where companies like ours, but also then other startups are working and investing. Why is this under leveraged, because if you look into the huge amount of renewable energy which is needed to turn around the world from 20% renewable to 80%-- If you really flip it around, one, if you imagined we would build all the renewable programs that are being announced globally, the bottleneck will be the grid, and the grid management that again is a combination of the real and the digital world means the grid electrification systems plus the intelligent management of it. This is where I see will be decisive for not only emerging markets but for the entire planet. Definitely, an area to focus on investment. The problem is that needs capex, but then- and that's to cut it short here it's important to move from instead of capital expenditure go to operational expense means have as a service business model, which make it a lot more affordable and tailored to the needs of emerging markets, but also larger economy.

That again, needs digitalization, cloud platforms, and technology. Great. Again, I'm conscious of the time, Courtney, very briefly, what are the key sectors for you? I think education across emerging markets is still really largely untapped. It's massive populations that have oftentimes limited access to some of the things that we've seen in more advanced markets. Education is one.

Then secondly, more from an investment standpoint, I would say B2B SaaS definitely has not been developed yet across many emerging markets. I think there's a huge upside to still seeing what can come from serving a new client base there. Excellent. What about you, Dr. Ola? Very briefly. Oh, I have a bias. I'm a doctor, my Master's is in finance.

My PhD is also going to be in finance, studying digital currencies on my thesis. I would say that definitely, the biggest opportunities are health tech and fintech. Fintech has produced one in five unicorns in the entire world. The third biggest unicorn-producing sector is health tech. Those are the two industries I focus on.

Definitely, I think the two industries are important for emerging markets. -Thank you so much. Navin? -Like we think of clean water, clean air as fundamental rights, I would think of free internet or internet accessibility to everyone and movement of money, electronic money for everyone. You just have these all four, and economies will just take off. Amazing. Thank you so much for this excellent discussion.

Please, everyone-- Help them. Thank them for me, too. [applause] The second panel will touch upon something a little bit different. It's looking from the inside out and how we can use emerging market innovations to help scale up these technologies. It's again all about the potential of emerging market innovation. For our speakers, firstly, I'd like to welcome Honorable Paula Ingabire, the Minister of Information, Communication, Technology, and Innovation at the Republic of Rwanda. [applause] As well as Engineer Omar Al-Ansari, I'd like to welcome you back on the stage who is the Secretary General of QRDI.

[applause] Dr. Inma Martinez, Digital Partner, and artificial intelligence scientist, who's also chair of the expert group at Global Partnership on AI. [applause] Welcome, and thank you so much for joining us today. Going back to that theme of the panel, Engineer Omar, I'd like to speak to you about those trends that we can use to scale up and replicate globally. I think Qatar was a great example last year, and just a little bit more about what you do and how these new innovations are coming into play in the country.

Thank you. At the Qatar Research Development and Innovation Council, our core mandate is to actually develop these capabilities, capabilities in R&D within the state. We've invested a lot over the last 20 years to develop scientific research capabilities. We see now the fruits of that investment and the fruits of that labor. Our next phase now is to, in a sense, complete the circle by also having private sector-led innovations. Of course, the private sector plays the critical role in capitalizing on these trends that you refer to.

I think what we're witnessing today, especially with AI is a very important and disruptive trend. We can talk about a lot of trends, but I expect the conversation over the next couple of months, most certainly will be about artificial intelligence, and its ability to disrupt. I think in the context of emerging economies, this is very important.

It's very important for emerging economies, due to the fact that I think some of the struggles and obstacles in different sectors in emerging economies are due to the lack of expertise or the lack of knowledge, or the lack of specialization within those sectors. If you think now to the power of generative AI to actually close those gaps very quickly, and help in knowledge transfer, knowledge transfer of best practices, knowledge transfer that can help scientific breakthroughs, we have the ability to disrupt education, to disrupt healthcare in a way that can be much more accessible to a lot of people. The key thing, though, is how do we ensure that we do that responsibly? How do we build the internal capabilities within our government institutions, to know how to do these trade-offs between the benefits and the potential risks? I think those capabilities and building them across our institutions is a focus we have, and I think it's a very important point of discussion. Excellent. Excellent. Your Minister, you've done so much work. Smart Africa is a great example of these innovations and how they've helped bring that prosperity that we're discussing today. Walk us a little bit about, again, how these homegrown innovations have helped growth in emerging markets.

Thank you very much. Perhaps I'll pick up from the remarks that you've made, Engineer Omar, where you said, "Qatar is an emerging economy." I think for Rwanda, how we are positioning ourselves is a proof of concept, a place where you can come and innovate and leverage fourth industrial revolution technologies to really create relevant solutions to some of the challenges that we deal with. We've seen a couple of those examples. Just yesterday, when our president had the interview, he did talk about Zipline as one of the examples. The story behind Zipline is that when we chose to use drones to deliver medical products and emergency products to some of our healthcare facilities in rural parts of the country, where really the alternative would've been to find lots of investments to invest in cold room infrastructure, thinking about accessibility to those places and figuring out what's the most efficient and cost-effective way to do this.

When we had- there was a solution with Zipline to use drones, there was a challenge in our hand to figure out how to deliver healthcare services better and much more efficiently. At that point, there were no globally agreed on set of regulations around how you use and fly drones. For Rwanda, we had the choice between, do we sit and wait until someone figures out some regulations around how to use drones, or do we really in positioning ourselves as a proof of concept market, be bold enough to test and try some of these innovations and use that proof of concept to then create relevant regulations that then actually have born a very vibrant local drone industry in Rwanda? What is the impact of that? Not only are we looking at better healthcare delivery thanks to the use of drones and how we can deliver emergency products much faster, at the same time, what we are seeing is also the emergence of a drone economy within the country.

One where we are starting to see multiple drone use cases that are contributing beyond just healthcare, looking at agriculture and mining the construction field. That is really the impact of how you can leverage some of these emerging technologies. Engineer Omar talked about AI. AI is another area that we are looking at, whether it's from the financial perspective on how we can leverage AI tools to minimize fraud, how we can use AI in healthcare, particularly as we think about AI for radiologists. A particular example that we have in Rwanda is today we have about less than 20 radiologists for a population that's about 14 million.

What that means is for us, there's that constant conversation on how we leverage technology to support in how we deliver all services to our citizens, including healthcare services. Even using AI for radiology to improve on the work that the backlog of cases that radiologists have to deal with, being able to detect which are the most critical cases as opposed to first come first serve. All of that is really the benefits that we are starting to see as we open up as a country that is really ready to test some of these innovations.

Excellent. This is just exactly the theme that this panel is about, innovation that we can replicate, and that's such a great example. To you, Doctor Inma [?] both of them already spoke about artificial intelligence and I'm sure you have so much more to talk through us about that and how artificial intelligence is so important in the development of these new innovations in emerging economies. Well it is, it's the most disruptive technology that is exerting massive effect in the world right now. Although artificial intelligence has been developed for the last 60 years, it is now when we see its potentiality and also what is it that as a civilization we need to look out for in terms of how transformational we want it to be, but also how we want to preserve our culture, and the way we want to live in the future. Especially since September 22nd when a massive, large language model was put in the world in the hands of normal people, the governments are very very concerned as to how to deal with it.

The global partnership on AI is the AI agency founded by the G7 and G20 countries and is a member country organization with 29 nations and about 150 AI scientists from these nations and other nations, working together to actually make sure that AI is put in the world the way we need it. It's interesting, the example that you mentioned with radiology, because one of the greatest opportunities of developing nations, is that if you bring artificial intelligence to solve problems, for example, image diagnosis, you don't have the barriers that you find in developed nations as to if I bring this machine that is going to not only detect cancer markers in blood, but will draw me a picture of the evolution of this cancer so that we can create a therapy, basically predicting the future evolution, is not taking anybody's job. Which is what is mentally stopping many AI solutions in developed nations. If I automatize this or if I bring this detection tag, somebody's going to lose a job.

In developing nations you need solutions for very specific problems, and if technology is going to come and help, you immediately deploy it. This will create probably a future in which countries in development that pioneered many innovative technologies, will become the first case studies of how that thing actually works. It's a massive opportunity. Mobile payments, Africa has about 300 million mobile payment accounts, is the largest leading continent with mobile payments because it was deployed in Africa as a solution 20 years ago. I remember being at Nokia and Nokia was one of the first handset manufacturers that was developing mobile payment solutions and now is leading beyond developed nations.

For me, AI and other technologies, they are the new infrastructure, the new infrastructure of progress. I used to work in the financial industries when I was a young person and I worked in infrastructure development, infrastructure finance, financing bridges and roads and energy projects around the world. You mentioned Iberdrola, a Spanish energy company.

That was one of the companies I did work for. When you build infrastructure, you are not really addressing the core problem. For example, the famous bridge between Copenhagen in Denmark and the city in Sweden of Malmo, when that project was conceived and built in the mid-1990s, it wasn't because Denmark and Sweden had a traffic management problem. It was because they wanted to create a hub, an innovation economic development area for the two countries.

In 20 years, this circle, this geography between Malmo and Copenhagen generates 27% of both nations' GDP combined. It wasn't about cars. It was about progress, economic progress and social welfare. This is what we need to ask of technology today, which is the new infrastructure. Is it bringing economic progress? Is it bringing social equality? Is it bringing a better life for our people? That is the bottom line of anything that we do with tech. You just touched upon all of the other questions I have moving forward, which is excellent.

I'll take one point that you mentioned and bring it back to you, Minister, about how AI is actually helping create jobs and not killing more jobs than it's at least creating. How can the public and the private sector come together to reskill the workforce for the future in this age of artificial intelligence? There are a couple of things, and again, I'll use some examples of some of the things that we are already doing in Rwanda. You ask, how can the public and private sector work together? One, I think building the critical mass and talent pool is essential, whether it's for purposes of jobs that are going to be created in the public sector and the private sector.

In Rwanda, we've been able to attract a partnership between Carnegie Mellon University for the Africa campus, and I know here in Qatar you already have CMU as well that is offering undergraduate level degrees and for Rwanda, it's more postgrad. Essentially what we are doing is also focusing on what are those critical skills that are required for the future, where we have programs that are specialized in AI on machine learning, data science, and being able to build that critical mass of talent. Then you have the Africa Institute for Mathematical Sciences as well that has established itself in Rwanda, it's PhD level. You have students that are researching on these topics, but again, with a very particular context on how are we going to apply these emerging technologies, AI, IoT, to very specific challenges that we are solving in the continent.

One would even ask what then happens if you're going to take two to three years program of scaling. What we really need is urgent skills that can get into the marketplace, into the workforce. Are there other programs that we can partner on that allow for a short-term type of training that allow for the re-skilling and up-skilling to happen in a very fast, best manner to give us that talent? Beyond just creating the talent, there's also a need to create opportunities where they can use the talent that they've been able to develop. That's why very specifically for us, we've adopted a very strategic focus on how we're leveraging data and using AI models to really inform policy reforms, to inform some of the programs and implementation that we are really taking care of. I think the partnership between public sector and private sector should not just be left to creating the much-needed talent.

Obviously, it's a very fundamental focus because without the talent, you won't be able to have innovators. I know the theme of this conversation was around market-creating innovations. If you don't tackle the talent gap, then most likely you won't be able to create those innovators that are really building solutions from scratch that really respond to the unique context of the challenges that we have.

Beyond that, I think we need to be able to match the ability to create talent with the ability to put in place early state financing programs, because the talent you're creating is not just going to look for employment. They're people who are going to create products. They're going to build companies.

For them, beyond the ideas and the talent that they have, they're going to need financing to take their ideas to the next level and bring them to the market. They're going to need the right policy and regulatory frameworks in place that support these innovations. We know that many times policies and regulations are playing catch up when it comes to innovations. Having that space and platform where you allow to drive that conversation that allows you to have the right policy and regulations, then will bring these products as well onto the market.

Excellent. Engineer Omar, what about what's happening in Qatar? How is that effort to re-skill the workforce, boost innovation taking place? What does that look like in QRDI? I think though for example, we could talk about the disruptive nature of AI, but in general, technology trends have always had this effect of making certain jobs canceled and creating other jobs. If you think now the notion of having social media content managers as a job description, that is not something which existed a few years ago, but exists today. Whether it's AI or whether it's other types of technology trends, I think always as governments, we are having to keep an eye out on the categories of jobs that will be canceled, but also seeing the opportunities for categories or new categories of jobs that will be created. I think the essence though is, we have to have a principle that no one should be left behind.

I think we're all in emerging economies working on building this innovation ecosystem, but I think we have the opportunity to do it in a principled way. One of those principles is we should try to ensure in the same way that we're trying to ensure that innovation is accessible and beneficial to as many people as possible, but we should also do it in a way where we don't leave people behind. That includes people whose jobs may be made redundant due to new technology trends. What we have to do, we have to prioritize those kinds of jobs, and as government institutions, we have the ability to actually put some leverage and incentivize corporations as well to make this a priority.

The second thing as well, I think we have the advantage in Qatar is integrated planning. For example, right now Qatar is going through its next cycle of national development planning, and we have the ability to do that in an integrated way, where we think about where do we want to go as an economy, economic diversification, and tie that quite nicely with our education priorities, tie that quite nicely to demographic policies, tie that quite nicely to research priorities. We have the ability to do integrated planning in Qatar, and I think we have the ability to do that in other emerging economies, and I think that's also a very useful lever that governments can do, which is integrated planning. Excellent. Dr. Inma, going back to the last point

that you mentioned about artificial intelligence and the questions that we should look at when we're incorporating it. I want to ask you, how are these emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence transforming the way the public institutions are serving their citizens. We'll go back of course and speak to our government officials, but to you as someone who works with G7 and so on, what does that look like to you? Well, governments have the responsibility of funding whatever initiatives is going to create prosperity, more employment, innovation. That obviously has been the strategy in the European Union, for example. Beyond that, and this is what it's emerging now as it was extremely rightly pointed out.

We now find ourselves at an inflection point as humanity, in which we are almost touching certain aspects of science as gods. For example, molecular developments, being able to very quickly with AI build the molecular structure of DNA. This is something that AlphaFold did in 2018. All of a sudden we see ourselves almost recreating nature, something that was unthinkable 100 years ago and is, at this moment in which ethics- equity is when we start thinking what world we want to build.

We cannot leave anyone behind. We need to make a life that is fit for humans to live rather than an alienating life. All of the products and solutions that are emerging in, for example, with Artificial Intelligence, they have to have the basis of, it's really demonstrating that is alleviating a lot of hardships.

For example, Artificial Intelligence in agriculture is completely transforming how arable land is being treated because every year due to climate change, but also very bad agricultural practices, arable land decreases, so we have less land to grow food for a much larger humanity of billions. When you bring AI to the fields, immediately it has to demonstrate that you work with less effort, you have better yields for your crop. It has to be monitoring that it brings an optimization, but also that is something scalable that everybody else can use that is not a bespoke project brought by a university to a small farmer.

No, this is really a way to create an industry and a transformative movement that can become a case study and something deployable with scalability. In the GPAI, when I joined, I started leading AI in agriculture and livestock farming because it's one of the areas that is most radically going to change, but also healthcare. Also, what kind of cities are we building? Smart cities is a concept that began in 2000. I remember I was invited to come to Eindhoven in Holland.

Eindhoven is one of the super smart cities where they have innovated the most, and at the beginning was about putting internet on the streets, and then it was about centralizing car parks and then bringing electric bicycles, but today it's about waste management, oxygen levels, fighting pollution, fighting mental health issues of people living in metropolis of more than 10, 15, 20 million people. It's not about electric bicycles anymore. I'm very excited that Doha is a footprint for anything you want to build on it because it's a city of the future.

It's got the infrastructure, it's got the blank page to start dreaming up how the cities in the future should be, how technology can come and create an impact in this. Emerging markets are the test bed of dreams because you can build everything brand new on top of it. That's so true. That's so true. To you, Engineer Omar, with Doha being the footprint, what are these experience looking like, how is it serving the public? Very briefly as again, I'm being very conscious of time. I think there's a lot of intersecting themes here.

I think the Minister talked about how you can be a proof-of-concept nation and how you can leverage the challenges you have to drive innovation. I think one of the most recent examples in Qatar is the World Cup. I think we can't have a story about Doha and not actually talk about the World Cup a little bit and the learnings from the World Cup. Not only was the event delivered and was a wonderful experience but there was a side effect as well where innovations were actually deployed, developed and used. Just the example of the football itself, which had 500 sensors in it, and AI technology is powering it, all the way to the Stadium 974, which is essentially built like Lego blocks, which can be completely deconstructed and put somewhere else, even to the stadium cooling, which came from one of our universities, that was 40% more efficient than existing technologies, which is very hard, by the way, in a stadium, which is open to the air. Also accessibility to the blind where braille technology was used to give the blind the beautiful experience of the World Cup.

The moral of the story though is not to just list all these innovations. The moral is the ability for us as an emerging nation to actually use these missions. I think there's a lot of discussion in different circles about mission-oriented research, for example.

For us, the World Cup was a mission. That mission, we leveraged to actually do other things. I think the Minister also talked about the example of delivering healthcare using drones. In a way that's a mission.

How can we actually have useful missions where we actually are intelligent about- in a way architecting those missions to drive and invite innovations? The examples I gave in a way, forced opportunities to happen. It forced ideas that were in a university to come out of university. It gave the opportunity to a local startup to have a place where they can test those technologies. It gave the opportunity to foreign innovators to test their solutions locally. I think mission-oriented development is useful.

There are other levers that we can deploy and we can't talk to them, but I just wanted to throw that in the mix because I think it's very useful. Unfortunately, the session has run out of time, but this is an excellent way to wrap up, I think our discussion. Thank you so much for your insight, and thank you all for attending. -This was such a great session. -Thank you. [music]

2023-05-27 02:32

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