Dubai – With the COVID wave showing no signs of abating, leveraging the opportunities in technology while ensuring digital inclusion should be the key to meeting the myriad socio-economic issues currently facing the world, said tech-experts at the 16th Edition of the ABLF Talks held at the cutting-edge virtual venue ABLF City.
The ABLF Talks, held under the patronage of H H Sheikh Nahayan Mabarak al Nahayan and in partnership with the UAE Ministry of Economy and Dubai Cares, saw top tech leaders from the region converge virtually to discuss the role of technology and the importance of financial and digital inclusion as they suggested ways to counter the grave problems that different sectors are grappling with in the wake of the pandemic.
Fadi Pharaon, president, MEA, Ericsson spotlighted the initiatives of the technology giant in the field of education as well as in providing climate change solutions as he outlined the projects the company has taken up to meet the vision of the UAE government. “We need to leverage the power of 5G to transform industries and communities,” said Pharaon.
While digital transformation has been more pronounced in the finance sector, financial inclusion continues to be a challenge. In a panel discussion between Ahmed Alnaqbi, CEO, Emirates Development Bank (EDB), UAE and Sonia Gokhale, founding partner, Venturesouq, UAE the emphasis was on increasing digital inclusion. Alnaqbi recalled how the banking industry was forced to adopt new methods and adapt to the changing needs of the customer almost overnight when the pandemic struck. “Banking is people’s business,” said Alnaqbi. “All our processes including the rules and regulations have had to change to cope with the digital way of working,” he said.
However, EDB has been up to the challenge and have increased their digital offerings besides playing a larger role in the economic diversification of the UAE. “EDB has committed to deploying AED30bn into the market in five key sectors which will have an impact on sustainability and development,” said Alnaqbi.
His co-panellist Sonia Gokhale threw light on the change in the start-up sector that COVID-19 brought in. Venturesouq, the leading GCC-based venture capital firm launched the region’s first fintech fund in 2021 contributing to the transformation of the sector. With governments in the region, be it Saudi Arabia or the UAE, promoting the ecosystem, companies like Venturesouq have been able to build an environment where people can grow. “COVID-19 has taught us to be nimble and we have seen that trait in the startup sector,” said Gokhale.
In an engaging discussion on the acceleration of digitisation due to the unprecedented changes, Dereck Hoogenkamp – co-founder, Palmfusion Technologies and Owner and MD, Yalla Ltd, discussed the the fascinating possibilities with blockchain and cryptocurrencies as well as Artificial Intelligence (AI) leading the innovation game while co-panellist Alaa Adel, vice-president and managing director, MEA, Cerner highlighted the innovation in the healthcare sector that has seen a huge tech-driven revolution. “Face-to-face interactions are going to transform into something new with hybrid becoming the norm,” he said.
With agility and adaptability becoming the core of all strategies, technology has to be placed at front and centre of all solutions to cope with the issues presented by the pandemic was the unanimous consensus among the industry leaders.
The ABLF Talks, powered by four innovative superbrands, the Aditya Birla Group, Zand, the world’s first fully digital bank, DP World, the global supply chain solutions giant and Etisalat, the world’s fastest mobile network, will return next month on February 8 featuring top leaders in conversations of consequence.