Ethio Lease this month became the first foreign-owned company to secure a financial services license in Ethiopia. Simplifying the country’s forbidding bureaucracy would help the country’s leasing market to reach its full potential.
ITW, Edith Brou: Mobilising people is what I do
TAR: How did you get your start?
Edith Brou: From a very early age, I was fascinated by computers and computer games. And when the internet arrived in the early 2000s, it was like catching a virus. Then, in 2009, I started blogging and through the web I got into contact with others who had the same fascination with this technology. We held many discussions about what it could mean for Africa. Virtually everyone in that group has continued working in information technology.
On 11 February 2011, my friend Amie Kouamé and I launched ayanawebzine.com. What interested me was to have an entirely female editorial board for a digital publication because that is the future. An online magazine for women – there was nothing like this in all of West Africa. But the launch was in the midst of the post-electoral crisis […]. The crisis motivated me even more to build something good in my country, address the youth and be completely independent, especially from politics.
What are the challenges?
It’s important that young people get the idea that you can prosper outside politics, build an enterprise, contribute to your community and make your own money. But for that to happen you need an attractive environment with fiscal incentives, access to finance.
Pointing out problems and mobilising people, mobilising public opinion to come up with solutions – that’s what I do. There’s a school that needs repair – who can do this? There’s this young man with an idea – who can help with the money side?
What changes are young people bringing?
Young people use their phones to access the internet and form their own opinions. They are critical, they analyse, they make fun of politicians and often in a very creative way. In fact, you can say that these days no one can take them for a ride.
What is next?
My next project is a series of portraits of digital agents: 50visagesivoiretech.ci. The idea is to create a list of people who are working in tech in Africa. It’s a project very dear to my heart. I want to show an Africa that’s on the move, is connected, creates businesses and gets things done.
From the May 2018 print edition