by Thabo Owen Mokwena

Publisher's Note

The strength of disruptive tech

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One sunny Saturday afternoon I was hanging around in one of the finest restaurants in Melrose arch, Johannesburg, indulging in my Caribbean Cigars. I was huffing and puffing my lungs out and enjoying the aroma of the thick smoke blowing out of my mouth. Realising the smoke from the cigars would interfere with the people around me, the guilt drove me to apologise to two ladies who were sitting close to my table enjoying a bottle of wine.

They pleasantly assured me they were fine and didn’t mind the aroma. Given their encouraging reaction, I tried my luck and extended pleasantries, introducing myself.. The one lady introduced herself as a British national who was working for an international company supporting private education across the globe. The other lady was a self-made connoisseur who had previously established and ran a successful FinTech enterprise in New York and then sold it for a fortune.

I was more interested in engaging further with the FinTech guru. My aim was to gain a better understanding of her organisations disruptive tech proposition. Indeed, further down the line I was granted the opportunity to meet and discuss more. The conversation centered on the power of disruptive technologies to create measurable positive social impact and the bankable evidence. I learned much and a year later today, the advice I got is still enriching me.

The power of disruptive technologies has shown its might in how its transforming China and lifting that Nation out of poverty. As the world’s largest developing country, China has always attached great importance to poverty alleviation and development.

The one interesting element on the trajectory of China’s economic growth fused with emerging disruptive technology is the leading role of TenCent which is significantly owned by a South African company, Naspers. Tencent has been as the forefront of the economic growth in China and contributed significantly towards advancement of Internet-related services, artificial intelligence and other technologies. Again at the helm of technology advancement in USA is the role of Tesla, a company led by South African, Elon Musk.

What boggles my mind is our inability to leverage this unique opportunity of both Elon Musk’s expertise and our investment in Tencent to propel our economy and unleash the power of disruptive technologies.

Not only do we have the leverage on Tencent and Elon Musk, the likes of my newly found friend, the FinTech guru, are here and hungry for creating opportunities that will lead to a breakthrough in social impact. This will also lead to extraordinary reduction of poverty as it was done in China.

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