Interview With Ethiopian Entrepreneur, Markos Lemma – If the next big thing doesn’t come out of Africa, …
Upon interacting with each and sharing ideas, we realised we both contribute to Global Voices Online blog and even had 15+ real mutual friends in common.
I kept asking myself, why haven’t I come across Markos since I started blogging and reaching out to other bloggers/innovators in East-Africa? Having travelled to Ethiopia on a few occasions and making friends just at the Addis Ababa Bole Airport, I realized my connection with Markos is the just beginning of a discovery on its own.
We both have a passion for Technology, Innovation & Entrepreneurship and using our ideas and skills in changing the dialogue on Ghana, Ethiopia and Africa as a whole.
Below is an interview from the eLearning Africa 2013 Report which featured Markos Lemma’s Q&A interview.
A number of African pioneers and entrepreneurs have ventured towards establishing technology start-up companies and innovation hubs. The eLearning Africa Report interviews Markos Lemma co-founder of iceAddis, an innovation hub based in Ethiopia
Please tell us about your personal journey: what was your most influential formative educational experience as you were growing up?
I never went to any particularly exceptional schools in my childhood. I attended public schools both at primary and secondary level. But the most influential formative educational experience I had was when I joined a university. I obtained a Bachelors degree from Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT University) through a programme of the African Virtual University (AVU), which I attended in Addis Ababa with a mixed-mode education system.
The programme incorporated standard lectures (from Addis Ababa university facilitators), VSAT live lectures from Melbourne, via the WebCT eLearning platform (undoubtedly, the first eLearning programme in the whole country) and different virtual platforms. I believe this method of mixed-mode learning and teaching is very effective: it gives students unlimited possibilities of getting their questions answered from different places.
What was it that inspired you to start iceAddis?
I am one of the co-founders of iceAddis. In the beginning, we were asking ourselves very basic questions. Where can the Ethiopian creative youth go when they have great ideas?, How do people start a business with zero experience? What can link universities with industries? The answers weren’t as easy as the questions.
Previously, I was involved in private sector development projects at the German Association for International Cooperation (GIZ), back then GTZ. We already noticed many gaps, even with export-oriented companies, in the country. Undoubtedly, the biggest inspiration came when one of the co-founders visited iHub Nairobi.
We felt the dots were connected, and the answer was of course as easy as the question. We needed open spaces, collaborative physical platforms, and we need some energized people who are able to drag hands and tap backs to create something great in a country where innovation and co-working are least endorsed.
How do you think technologies can best help build sustainable human development across Africa?