Currently based in Amsterdam, Joanne Kubba joined Uber’s Europe, Middle East, and Africa office seven years ago, where she’s focused on liaising with key governments and regulators. Before Uber, Kubba was with Eureeca, a global crowd investing platform. Prior to that, she headed Google MENA’s public affairs, developing Arabic content through policy and partnerships.
What trend for tech investments in your region are you most excited about?
Over the last five years, you are seeing more and more small high-growth companies take off and attract significant talent, especially in the world of fintech and mobility. It’s an incredibly exciting shift, as you end up with a diversity of companies all over the world with a real opportunity at success serving local consumer needs in a much more meaningful way.
What are the overlooked tech opportunities in your region?
It’s important that regulations, both at national and EU levels, start to really open up and shift to allow innovation to grow. Amazing companies get saddled with old-school regulations that pour cold water on a company trying to compete with U.S. tech companies. Relatedly, you still see a lot of companies getting attention only in Western Europe, but, in fact, there is an incredible amount of talent and innovation coming out of Eastern Europe, Middle East, and Africa. Actively and consciously looking to create the diversity across those regions, both in your workforce but also in the investment community, will dramatically change the tech world.
Where’s the biggest gap in digital public policy between Western Europe and countries in the Middle East and Africa?
When I moved across from MEA to EMEA and specifically Western Europe, I was shocked to see how similar the public policy world was. Regulations and regulators are the same the world over, and all have common principles to pursue and govern. The main differences, rather than gaps, were speed. In Middle East and Africa, rules being set up were moving at lightning speed because they leapfrogged the regulatory structures that existed in Western Europe. The main gap, however, that I do see is civil society — which is more established in, say, a U.K. or France than it is as you move further east.
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