It gives me great pleasure to welcome so many friends and partners of the Peacetech Accelerator to our awards dinner for the Shield in the Cloud global anti-corruption challenge.
Why did C5, a specialist venture capital firm; Amazon, the world’s leading cloud computing company; SAP NS2, the world’s largest software company; the Peacetech Lab; and the US Institute for Peace partner to launch the first global anti- corruption innovation challenge?
I want to share four reasons tonight by addressing following questions-
What is peacetech?
Why are innovation and corruption two diametrically opposing forces?
Why does collective security matters?
Why is corruption corrosive to our national security?
- What is Peacetech? And why did we call this challenge Shield in the Cloud?
I had the privilege of growing up in the arid beauty of the Karoo desert in South Africa. In the Karoo, when you see a cloud, it is good news, because it carries the promise of rain that transforms the desert into the bloom of the brilliant colours of many flowers.
Similarly, cloud computing today is transforming our world with unprecedented opportunities for innovation and entrepreneurship.
What is cloud? Cloud is taking the computing power we have come to know first on our personal computers and on premise servers, and industrializing its capacity with computing infrastructure on a global scale for everyone’s benefit. Amazon pioneered this by investing billions of dollars to build multiple industrial size computing centres around the world, and networking them cost effectively with high speed fibre optic cables. This means that we need less capital and less infrastructure to grow organizations. We can displace capital with technology to build, scale and innovate globally on an unprecedented scale.
Cloud computing is an integral part of the U.S.’ leadership of the global economy and the free world today. The U.S. not only created cloud computing, but continues to lead and innovate cloud. The first fifteen cloud computing companies in the world today are all American. Cloud computing’s power to scale innovation, to reduce the cost of computing, and to increase its accessibility to everyone is increasingly one of the drivers of growth in the global economy.
Cloud will become as important to the stability of the global economy as the U.S. dollar is as our global reserve currency.
How does PeaceTech fit into cloud?
At C5, as investors, we have to look for the far horizons. Since we are the custodians not only of our own money, but also that of others, we have to think like stewards. This is why Peacetech matters to us at C5.
Peacetech is the purposeful application of the innovation that cloud computing enables for good and not for evil.
Peacetech is the strategic application of cloud-enabled innovation to sustain national and international security gains, build a strong peace and secure our children’s future.
It is this unprecedented opportunity that led us to launch the first global anti-corruption challenge to focus on a pillar of strong peace- combatting corruption. A strong and lasting peace in post conflict countries is not possible without good governance.
- Why are Innovation and Corruption Two Opposing Forces?
In our experience as venture capital investors in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, corruption and innovation are opposing forces. Where one is present, the other is invariably absent. Innovation thrives on good governance. On the other hand, the destructive economics of corruption kill innovation and opportunity. It wastes the talent of entire generations. In leading this challenge we want to strengthen the virtuous cycle between good governance, innovation and opportunity, which the entrepreneurs with whom we partner as investors need to thrive.
- Why is Collective Security the Best Security Model for the 21st Century?
One of the purposes of the global challenge is to find and support the leaders who are innovators in the fight against corruption and its causes.
As General Keith Alexander says, “In a networked world, collective security is the best security model.”
Fighting organised corruption is one of the loneliest tasks. Invariably, perpetrators seek to isolate, target, and diminish those working towards the greater good. The same perpetrators often have reach, hiring lawyers, investigators and public relations advisers of their own. The bigger the syndicate, the further their influence extends.
With the Shield in the Cloud global challenge, we want to connect organizations fighting corruption to build collective security. We also want to accelerate the pace of anti-corruption innovation by sharing best practices across this network.
It is our great privilege to have several leaders and innovators with us present here tonight who are helping to build good governance and combat corruption from around the world.
In expressing our gratitude to these leaders tonight, we are also expressing our gratitude and appreciation to everyone involved in fighting for this great cause, as well as those who are not with us tonight. We are honouring them for their courage even in their absence.
- Why is Corruption Corrosive the National Security?
Finally, in leading this challenge we want to highlight the threat of corruption.
No one can ever be complacent about corruption. As Solzhenitsyn wrote, “the line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either- but right through every human heart.”
As Admiral Mike Mullen says, “corruption is corrosive to national and international security.”
Increasingly it is a damaging effluence from the toxic stream of illegal narcotics that is flooding global trade routes to poison our nations. These same illicit global trading routes and networks that carry heroin, cocaine and opioids across them, carry multiple threats, ranging from human trafficking to terrorist finance.
These same illicit trading networks are exploited by state actors like North Korea to destabilize national and regional security. They increasingly form part of the lines of attack that adversaries are pursuing against our nations, while camouflaging their deadly hostile intent in a twilight between war and peace.
This clear and present danger and the complexity of its threat require new tools and models to combat it.
A vivid illustration of this phenomenon is the largest heroin case in history, which the US Department of Justice and the Drug Enforcement Agency are prosecuting in the Southern District Court of New York right now against an East African syndicate. This case involves a group called the Akasha brothers which attempted to smuggle 99kg of heroin into the US. The heroin was sourced from the Taliban in Afghanistan by a drug lord based in the UK posing as a legitimate Gulf-based businessman. The heroin supply was clandestinely transported from Afghanistan through Pakistan, and concealed in oil tankers to East Africa for onward shipment to the US and Europe. The syndicate used modern technology to evade detection including Skype and encrypted USB sticks. Along the way, its drug trade and money laundering helped to fuel conflicts in multiple countries in different ways- from the Taliban in Afghanistan, terrorist organizations in Pakistan, ethnic violence in Kenya, to state capture in South Africa.
The syndicate was too big for a single state to combat. It required a law enforcement alliance using new tools and methods. Only the innovation and persistence of the Special Operations Division (SOD) of the DEA brought them to justice in the US. This case is a vivid illustration of why we are honouring the SOD for bold leadership in the fight against corruption.
In conclusion, Vice President Biden said, “fighting corruption is not just about good governance. It is patriotism, it is self defence.”
In honouring these leaders tonight we ask you to join us in this challenge and invest alongside us in the future to innovate the fight against corruption.