Career Moves

Senior SA lawyer joins WEF 4IR centre in San Francisco

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Ashlin Perumall, senior associate at Baker McKenzie.
Ashlin Perumall, senior associate at Baker McKenzie.

Ashlin Perumall, senior associate at law firm Baker McKenzie, has taken up fellowship at the World Economic Forum’s (WEF’s) Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution (C4IR) in San Francisco.

Perumall, who was selected from a global pool of talent to join the C4IR last year, is now a member of the blockchain and digital currency working group, which researches the legal and policy issues on central bank digital currencies and stablecoins.

He says his motivation to take up the fellowship is based on the immense impact the 4IR will have on emerging African economies, ranging from the changing nature of work, to the impact of artificial intelligence technologies and the future of digital currencies.

Perumall’s move to San Francisco comes at a time when governments across the world are placing 4IR at the centre of developmental goals.

Africa is not far behind, as the continent has been positioning itself at global stage by aggressively driving the 4IR agenda.

In SA, president Cyril Ramaphosa formed the 4IR commission with the aim of assisting government to identify and pursue opportunities presented by the 4IR.

The 30-member commission includes industry heavyweights such Vodacom CEO Shameel Joosub, founder and chairman of Convergence Partners Andile Ngcaba, Cisco's Charmaine Houvet, and MultiChoice Group CEO Calvo Mawela, to name a few.

In October 2020, the final report and recommendations of the commission were gazetted and opened for public comment.

The report was promulgated in the Government Gazette dated 23 October 2020.

According to the 4IR commission, the fourth industrial revolution is an opportunity for SA to achieve Vision 2030 and beyond.

In the gazette, it says in analysing global best practice, a framework emerged comprised of eight pillars of 4IR strategy, which include, among others, a focus on service delivery and establishing the country as a global leader in a targeted area.

“These initiatives signal that the impact of 4IR technologies is being taken seriously, and legal advisors will need to develop the policy and industry insight to match the future needs of technology clients in Africa,” says Perumall.

Commenting on Perumall’s move to the US, Morne van der Merwe, managing partner of Baker McKenzie, says: “Ashlin’s invaluable skills in IPtech and M&A / commercial law means he has played a key role in many of the firm’s major African transactions in the last few years. His knowledge of the intersection of technology, commercial law, policy and innovation places him at the cutting-edge of African legal work.

“Ashlin’s global fellowship at the C4IR is a highly prestigious appointment within the firm and is a testament to his knowledge and acumen in the area of legal innovation and its business applications. He has also been actively involved in the firm’s internal, pro bono and client-focused innovation initiatives.

“We know he will achieve great things during his tenure at the C4IR, bringing back with him crucial skills needed to solve client pain points in Africa, and allowing him to play a meaningful role in the implementation of the digital economy across the continent.”

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