Ogheneruemu Oneyibo, TechPoint Africa
This week we feature Ogheneruemu Oneyibo, Reporter at TechPoint Africa, whose innate curiosity led her into journalism and the art of masterful storytelling. Ogheneruemu sees writing as an art with the power to help shift a more empowered narrative of Africans and the many amazing innovations currently emerging from the continent.
What led you into the journalism world and what would you be doing if you weren’t a journalist?
I believe it was curiosity above all else. I’ve always been a curious person. Trying to poke my nose in somewhere and know everything there is to know, whether it’s a person, a concept, or a thing. If I don’t, I’m left feeling incomplete. It has led me on several journeys throughout my short life — good and bad — and Techpoint is another in a series of them. It also helped that I was interested in tech from a young age. Not necessarily the writing and news part of it, but more about how things work and why it worked that way. This brings us back to curiousity.
If I wasn’t a journalist, though, there are several things I could have been doing. Law, out and out research because it has always fascinated me, entertaining my dream to be a writer/songwriter, or trying to learn how to be a dancer, even though I can’t dance to save my life.
There are so many untold stories in the African space, and we don’t even hear half of it. It’s the African people and the African problems. It’s the particular way that we look at solving those problems
When you’re hunting for stories, what are the particular elements that catch your attention more than others?
Sometimes, it could be the way a pitch is crafted, the storytelling of it. It tells me several things. So even though what Person A might be doing is not necessarily different from Person B’s, there’s something that could be exciting about it, even in subtle ways.
It is also dependent on our criteria at Techpoint. Is what you are doing interesting/innovative? Does it have true impact — big or small —?
It can also depend on what I am most curious about at any given moment.
Why is African business so unique and what makes it so exciting to report on?
There are so many untold stories in the African space, and we don’t even hear half of it. It’s the African people and the African problems. It’s the particular way that we look at solving those problems, whether it is in talking it to death or actually taking care of it.
Those untold stories are part of why we pick ourselves up and write even on days when we do not feel like it. And most importantly, it is the people we write, the everyday reader who has never heard about NFTs or doesn’t know that they have data rights worth protecting. That is why the African story is unique and why it excites me to write about it.
And do you have any particular love for any sectors or industries?
I am partial to stories about data protection and privacy. It’s not often spoken about in this part of the world, although it seems to be gaining ground. I feel it is important to know these things, especially as the world grows increasingly digital in ways we never thought possible.
I’m also interested in the mobility and eCommerce sector. As a recovering Lagosian, mobility is a sore spot for me, and I welcome pitches about exciting things happening in the space. I’ve also recently begun taking more interest in health and cleantech. Africa has a waste and energy problem and I’d love to see more stories coming out of that space.
Writing is an art. And like all art, it’s not as malleable as we would like to think. For me, part of the problem has been solved by having companies like TechPoint show that it can be done.
Why is it important that people around the world get to hear about young, growing companies on the continent?
To change the narrative. To see our stories written in our own words, and with our perspective take centre stage. Africans are incredibly innovative, although we are not without our faults — and boy are they many. But our stories need to be heard regardless.
It is also to inspire. Well written stories should inspire something in you, whether it is pride, or the push to do more or even do something.
Of course, there’s funding to think about, too; we definitely can’t forget that. Although I believe to a large extent that Africans funding Africans is a great way to go, the place of FDIs is still important.
How can we encourage more people to join the writing community and dedicate their energy to telling stories about African tech and business?
Writing is an art. And like all art, it’s not as malleable as we would like to think. For me, part of the problem has been solved by having companies like Techpoint show that it can be done. And that it can take many forms, whether it is in the form of a newsletter or an article on a blog and still make you money if that is what you are looking for.
That being said, there’s something to be said for passion and interest, not just in writing but in African tech stories.
Bootcamps like the one that got me into Techpoint are also important. Training grants are also good incentives, I would say. But should not be the only incentive.