Tope Alabi is a software engineer. He is the co-founder and CEO of Afriex, a fintech facilitating intra-African and international remittances.

Explain your job to a five-year-old.

I make it easy for people to send money overseas. 

Why did you decide to be a software engineer?

I studied electrical engineering in school, so software development wasn’t totally new to me, although the stuff we worked with in school was much more focused on hardware than internet technology. Like all engineers, I had the confidence that I could build anything, even if I hadn’t done it before. When I got out of school it was tough to get a job, so I spent a few months staying with my mum. While I was there,  I helped her build a website for her healthcare business because I thought it would look more professional. 

It was through that experience that I learned to build websites and eventually other internet technologies.

As a software developer, what’s one misconception people have about your job?

That when you build it, the job’s done. Most of software development is maintenance. Building software is like building a house: you have to keep maintaining it and checking on it, or it will get dusty and overrun with pests.

You’re a fintech founder yourself. Do you think Africa has too many fintechs? Why or why not? 

No, Africa needs more fintechs. Finance is the foundation upon which all other industries are built. Remittance is the bridge that connects each country to the outside world, credit/lending provides leverage to invest, stocks and crypto allow you grow your money without working,  and insurance protects your assets against disaster and allows you to keep building.

Every other industry needs these tools, and without these tools it is very hard to build an advanced economy. 

What (singular) achievement are you most proud of?

I’m proud of the work we have been able to do at Afriex so far, but the job is not done; we still have a long way to go. 

What’s something you love doing that you’re terrible at? And something you really do not like doing but are great at?

I love playing arcade games, but I’m terrible at them because I only get to play once every year or so.

I’m great at predicting what happens next in movies, but I don’t like watching movies in the first place. Maybe that’s why I don’t like watching movies. 

Do you think Web3 is solving any immediate or even future problems?

Not yet, but it will. Web3 is about decentralisation; this is a theme that we have seen throughout the history of the internet.

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Timi Odueso Senior Editor, Newsletters

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