John Etokhana discusses his profession and the way forward for tech in Nigeria and Africa

The yr was 2018 when a Lagos-based visible designer dipped into the tech expertise pool for the primary time as a college graduate. The Nigerian tech house on the time brimmed with immense potential however was at a fledgling section the place quite a lot of issues weren’t as well-defined as they’re now. As a visible designer at Lagos fintech firm, Kora, the protagonist of this story, John Etokhana, couldn’t have envisaged how far into tech he would finally come in the middle of solely 4 years.

Right here we’re in 2022, nonetheless, and Etokhana has solely grown in leaps and bounds; he presently designs web-3-related options as a product designer at composable. He additionally based his personal model, Creotok, the place as Artistic Director, he proffers options to the visible and product design wants of varied firms. Other than dealing with briefs from well-known manufacturers in and out of doors Nigeria, Etokhana has additionally immersed himself into tech tradition across the globe and the one arising at a quick tempo throughout Africa and most pertinently, Nigeria. His pursuits and areas of experience now embody web3, tech laws and advocacy, in addition to his core areas: product design and administration.

On this interview with Enterprise Insider Africa, John Etokhana is insightful and thorough along with his evaluation of the realities of expertise in Nigeria, the sort of relationship the federal government has with it viz-a-viz what Nigeria’s youth inhabitants aspires to do and turn into off the again of contemporary tech revolution as seen within the emergence of blockchain expertise, cryptocurrencies, NFTs, Web3, and so on. Learn on.

BI Africa: Inform us the story of how you bought into tech

John Etokhana: Recent out of faculty in 2018, I received a job at Kora as a visible designer. Again then, tech was not as it’s now. It was simply beginning to get some velocity and momentum by way of firms getting funded in Nigeria and folks had been simply passing the ₦500k-a-month wage mark. I used to be already within the technique of switching to product design earlier than I joined Kora however there was no actual construction or alternative to study correctly then particularly in comparison with now. Working in a tech firm allowed me the chance to study on the job and construct a profession path towards product design.

BI Africa: What’s one thing you want you knew earlier than you bought in?

John Etokhana: The limitless emotional battle. I can’t communicate for everybody however personally, it has been an emotional journey on completely different ranges. A variety of issues occurred for me fairly quick — financially and career-wise. I’ve been in areas the place I didn’t think about I’d be at this level in my life. That comes at you in several methods; from having imposter syndrome typically, to feeling like a rockstar at different occasions, managing new experiences, and typically having to relearn stuff you already know.

BI Africa: How rewarding have all these been up to now although? Let’s say on a scale of 0-10

John Etokhana: It’s been 110 for me. Like I stated earlier than, the stage of my life and what I’ve been capable of obtain, and my relationships with individuals; the entry, alternatives and goals are past something I imagined at this stage of my life.

BI Africa: So good to listen to. Let’s contact on web3 now. Would you say its adoption goes effectively globally and particularly in Nigeria?

John Etokhana: Web3 at its core is an thought. It’s presently a work-in-progress and isn’t precisely outlined but however the very abridged model of that concept is that you just and I as customers of the web can personal some a part of it. It isn’t going to be a bunch of life-changing stuff all of sudden. It’ll possible be a sequence of concepts that develop collectively till centralised firms like Fb and Google are disassembled by legislature whereas decentralised autonomous organisations substitute them.

Its adoption in Africa could be very progressive, much more can nonetheless be completed however we’re making good progress. I learn a report that between June 2020 and July 2021, Africa’s cryptocurrency market grew by over 1,200% in worth and that African web3 and crypto-based startups have raised $139 million in 2022 alone. So even on the worldwide market, they’re seeing an increase in adoption right here.

In Nigeria, we now have a bunch of interesting use circumstances: our foreign exchange points, individuals wish to obtain and ship cash with none hassles, individuals earn in crypto as effectively and we even have individuals who commerce to earn an honest dwelling.

BI Africa: What would you say the most important challenges to its adoption in Nigeria are?

John Etokhana: Our authorities. The federal government positioned a ban on crypto and buying and selling because of an unfounded declare of illegality and in addition in an effort to save lots of the naira. To this point, each haven’t been fruitful strikes. In truth, it has made cryptocurrency buying and selling tougher to watch and fewer protected for customers. There are undoubtedly methods of regulating these items and I hope that we will get there and elevate the ban on what can enhance the lives of individuals.

There’s additionally much more enlightenment and schooling to do. Many individuals don’t have a straightforward studying path with regards to web3. Folks even have misconceptions about crypto the place they assume it’s only for shopping for dips and cashing out when it is excessive however there’s much more to it. For instance, saving In {dollars} and euros and incomes curiosity on these financial savings is an answer that may profit most Nigerians.

BI Africa: What explicit challenge can Web3 assist resolve from a Nigerian perspective?

John Etokhana: With the present state of the nation, web3 can resolve:

1. Cash switch. Having the ability to ship cash from anyplace to anyplace and simply.

2. Beneficial properties. Other than buying and selling and making good points, you’ll be able to earn cash whereas utilizing the web. Think about being paid or rewarded for watching TikTok and reacting to movies there.

BI Africa: For a teen trying to enter tech proper now, what are the classes which might be related and on-demand for at the least the following 5 years?

John Etokhana: Tech firms get bought to different firms however what are the elements of the enterprise which might be prone to be left undisturbed or modified? It wouldn’t have made any sense if Stripe bought Paystack and adjusted their complete product crew or their tech crew. That is actually the core a part of the corporate and roles round these will probably be related for at least 15 – 20 years. Personally, I feel roles for Information Analysts, Enterprise Analysts, and Advertising and marketing and gross sales personnel amongst others will certainly be related for at the least, the following 5 to 10 years.

BI Africa: Let’s finish this dialog along with your ideas for individuals trying to get into tech

John Etokhana: You’ll get recommendation like ‘it’s straightforward going into tech’ and ‘in 3 months, you’ll begin incomes this or that specific quantity.’ It actually doesn’t work this manner. It’s a must to pay your dues which suggests constantly working arduous. Some persons are fortunate they usually transfer quick however it’s a really small proportion. A very powerful factor is to be true to your self and be constant and your alternative will come.

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