19 September 2017

Rwanda: Tourism Sector Players Urged to Embrace Technology


Alliy Mbwana is the founder and managing partner at Savannah Fund, an Africa focused Technology Venture Capital fund. The expert wants tourism and hospitality sector players to embrace ICT as a strategy to maximise on profits.

Peterson Tumwebaze interviewed Mbwana on his experience in investing in technology startups and his views on Africa's potential to become a global technology innovator.

As a technology investor, what new innovations are currently exciting you?

I am excited about drones, robotics and the impact they are having on logistics, agriculture, travel on the continent. Especially, since I started my career as an aerospace engineer in the defense industry, and a lot of the autonomous drones today have similar capabilities at much lower cost than 10 years ago. We will see efficiencies in farming, construction, mining and healthcare delivery.

How do you see artificial intelligence impacting the hospitality industry?

There is a huge potential in artificial intelligence driven personal assistants, concierge services and personalisation in travel that is available in every smart phone that billions of users own. It will lead to new levels of customer service and of course disruption in the labour structure of the hospitality industry- more technology investments and training are inevitable to serve demands of business travelers and holiday makers of tomorrow.

Is Africa leading the way with new technological advances, what can we expect for the future especially in regard to tourism?

The implementation of mobile money technologies is an example- it is spreading across Africa and there will be 500 million plus mobile wallets in Africa in the next few years. We should be watching the impact of block chain technology payments, lending, securing and transfer of assets as well as smart contracts in how we do business.

How can emerging economies develop their tourism industries?

There are many interesting trends occurring in the global travel industry today, and one of the most notable is the growing impact of affluent travelers from "emerging" market countries on travel spending and investment.

Collectively, these countries are now beginning to outpace their "developed" (for the sake of this piece I am referring to the commonly used OECD definitions of the terms "emerging" and "developing") market counterparts when it comes to creating affluent households.


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