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Kwame Rugunda on WEF Appointment: Uganda to have Greater input into Global Agenda on Emerging Technologies

Kwame Rugunda, Chief Executive, CryptoSavannah, has spoken out on his selection to the World Economic Forum Council on Cryptocurrencies, saying he will use his new position “to broaden the opportunities for our ICT industry, which well harnessed, can have a catalytic transformative effect on Uganda’s economy.”

A technology entrepreneur with an interest in emerging technologies, particularly those designed to address the challenges of global development, Kwame said his selection was not only an honour but an assignment of great responsibility.

“It is testimony to the work we have been doing in Uganda, and recognition that our efforts are maturing to the level where we can now contribute to shaping global, regional and industry agenda,” he observed.

When the World Economic Forum (WEF) met in Davos in January 2020, it was celebrating its 50th anniversary, and its theme focused on Stakeholders for a Cohesive and Sustainable World.

It is these types of themes that have defined the World Economic Forum, an international NGO whose mission is to improve the state of the world, which it accomplishes by engaging business, political, academic and other leaders of society to shape global, regional and industry agenda.

Under the leadership of its Chairman, Prof. Klaus Schwab, WEF executes its work through various structures, among which include the Global Future Councils, an invitation-only community that serves as a brain trust for WEF and for the world at large.

These councils are the world’s foremost multi-stakeholder and interdisciplinary knowledge network dedicated to promoting innovative thinking to shape a more resilient, inclusive and sustainable future.

The network is grouped into 40 expertise based thematic councils which convene about 1,000 of the most relevant and knowledgeable thought leaders from academia, government, international organizations, business and civil society, to serve WEF for a period of one-year.

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Global agenda

In an exclusive interview with ChimpReports on Tuesday, Kwame said, “as Africans, it is important that we engage with organizations like the World Economic Forum because they shape and decide on global agenda.”

Among WEF’s priorities are areas like the 4th Industrial Revolution and preparation for the post COVID-19 world.

“I therefore consider this as an important opportunity to contribute towards ensuring better policies, more innovation and greater inclusivity of Africa in the global agenda,” said Kwame, in reference to his appointment.

An Electrical Engineer and Mathematician by training, Kwame has worked in the fields of telecommunications, broadcasting and civic technology, and has consulted for governments and various private and non-profit organizations globally.

His interest in technology and innovation exposed him early to the 4th industrial revolution where he took particular interest in blockchain technology and its various applications.

Asked what his appointment meant for Uganda’s ICT sector, Kwame responded: “I am a product of the ICT industry in Uganda. This year, two Ugandans have been selected to join WEF’s Global Future Councils, coincidentally both of whom are products of the ICT industry, myself and Commissioner Julius Torach from the Ministry of ICT.”

He added: “Our ICT industry in Uganda is coming of age, and the selection of two Ugandans to the WEF future council is partly testimony to this. I believe that while on the WEF assignment, we will be able to broaden the opportunities for our ICT industry, which well harnessed, can have a catalytic transformative effect on Uganda’s economy.”

The Global Future Councils serve as a brain trust for WEF and for the world at large.

As a community of experts, it plays an essential role in challenging assumptions, providing thought leadership, and helping leaders understand, address and prepare for the future.

Kwame, the son of Prime Minister Dr Ruhakana Rugunda, said cryptocurrencies have over the last decade been allowing society to re-envision the financial and monetary systems.

“As an emerging space, there are opportunities to rethink key facets of money and payments, including privacy, inclusion and efficiency, but only through foresight and deliberate design,” he said.

“The role of China in particular is of interest, as a forerunner in the creation of a central bank digital currency, leading the world on the evolution of money, like it did 700 years ago when it created paper money, as detailed in the writings of Marco Polo.”

Challenges

The Global Future Council on Cryptocurrencies will evaluate key challenges and opportunities within this industry – and what it will take to achieve the key aims of cryptocurrencies.

The council will work on technical knowledge products for regulators and policy-makers to inform better governance, capacity-building initiatives, and other projects of the council’s selection.

Kwame, who also doubles as the Chairman of the Blockchain Association of Uganda, and serves on Uganda’s National Taskforce on the 4th Industrial Revolution, said his appointment lifts the profile of Uganda, particularly in the global conversation around innovation and the 4th Industrial Revolution.

“WEF is an important organization that shapes global agenda, and the participation of Uganda enables us have greater input into this global agenda, and it also presents opportunity for more attention to be drawn to what is happening in Uganda, which can translate into increased investments, collaboration and opportunities for Uganda,” said Kwame.

Along with his technical and business training, Kwame is a graduate of the Harvard University Kennedy School of Government where he obtained his Master’s Degree in Public Administration, and was a 2017 recipient of the Harvard Kennedy School Lucius Littauer Award.

Uganda’s National Task Force on Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) last week released its draft report to guide government on harnessing emerging technologies.

The taskforce chairman, Hon John Nasasira said the report covers a comprehensive national ecosystem for adoption and promotion of 4IR such as human capital development; employment opportunities; infrastructure and technological environment; research and innovation; international partnerships and collaboration; cyber security, data protection, privacy and ethics; results framework; and delivery mechanisms.

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