Episode 31, Lessons and warnings for African returnees. Adia Sowho

Adia Sowho was the Head of Digital Media and Director of Digital Business at Etisalat Nigeria.

She started her career as an engineer with United States Cellular, a CDMA operator in the US. She obtained her MBA from the Kellogg School of Management.

After a stint at Deloitte Consulting, she returned home to Nigeria.

Adia’s story is one that resonates with Nigerians who have spent a long time abroad and have returned home.

It is hard. To re-integrate with the Nigerian culture and to feel accepted by the people. She also touches on her struggles to employment and gives a very uncommon but highly effective way of securing your dream job.

This conversation with Adia is an episode that will keep on giving.


In this episode, you’ll learn:

  • Why the Nigerian Telco market has already tried and tested somethings that are just showing up in developed markets
  • Adia thinks digital infrastructure can and should replace physical infrastructure
  • That building a product for apps and not for people is the wrong way to go. It almost never works. Why?
  • Adia thinks Nigerians don’t really care about apps. Find out why
  • “We have an ecosystem that is not aware of the revolution going on in the telco business” What did Adia mean by this statement?
  • Returning home to Nigeria after being away for 14 years was a bit tough. How did she get through it? What are the lessons you can get from her journey?
  • There is a huge opportunity for the tech ecosystem to ride on the Telco distribution network. Find out how.
  • Bars are a great place to network and get jobs in Lagos. Don’t agree? Hear all about Adia’s red dress story and how she met top telco executives
  • Smartphone penetration in Nigeria is 15% making scaling a bit difficult for digital businesses. Find out how and why SMS is still an option

Selected book from this episode:

Building The Future Podcast Season 2 is sponsored by the British Council.

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Episode 31