Hailing from the Ivory Coast in West Africa, Eugenie Tano is a bilingual cyber security & social media expert. Recently she put her skills to good use by launching the online business ‘Afrisellnet’. Eugenie has big plans for the business. Read more about how she intends to achieve a global platform in the interview.
You have a wonderful concept for an online business . It’s like a one stop shop for all goods and services for people of African descent worldwide. Wow! This is most impressive. Would you say this is an accurate description of the aims of Afrisellnet?
Yes, that is right . You can use the term ‘one stop shop for all goods and services’ for people from the African diaspora . We are promoting products and services as well as showcasing Africans and Afro-Caribbean products, businesses and talent to the rest of the world. Through trade we aim to facilitate community engagement.
When did you launch? Which regions are showing the most interest and activity?
We have just launched on 30th March 2021. So, we are barely 2 months old. We are still in the process of promoting the Afrisellnet brand. There has been a lot of interest. I have been in discussions with people expressing interest to advertise but it takes time to build up the viewing figures and confidence.
Do you think there has been enough awareness about the launch of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and the trading potential of a market of approximately 1.2 billion people across Africa?
There has not been enough information about this free trade area. The African Union and other participating organisations should mount a massive campaign to bring awareness of the organisation and its benefits to Africans and people within the diaspora.
You have established non-commercial aims for Afrisellnet directed at building community spirit, cohesion and creating educational opportunities for people of African heritage. How do you plan to achieve this?
We plan to do this through collaboration. Afrisellnet cannot achieve this aim alone. This is why we encourage everyone to join in the discussion and share their knowledge. We need people willing to help their communities. It is true that Afrisellnet has initiated the platform, but it belongs to every one of us.
We encourage people to sign up and give advice to those who need it. In these communities, there are different people with different talents, different education levels. So imagine if we put all of this together and share our knowledge. How much difference we can make to people’s lives. The forum to generate discussion is free to use. We encourage participants to dedicate their time.
Your background and expertise in online cyber security puts you in an excellent position to manage a global platform such as Afrisellnet. Cyber security is an ever-present concern for internet users. In light of the current privacy breaches by big tech companies, do you believe that security can be achieved for everyday users?
This question has two answers.
- First is to focus on providing help for users on the Afrisellnet website.
There is no right answer when it comes to online security and privacy. The only effective way is to keep users safe and educate them on online security, privacy issues on the dangers around them. It is like teaching children not to talk to strangers. They say prevention is better than cure.
In my private blog, I educate people on basic knowledge of online safety. Criminals are constantly looking for vulnerability. They do not care if you are a tech guru, individual or company. Alas, the pandemic has contributed to a surge in online crime.
In terms of concerns around data protection. As a company, you can be assured that we are collaborating with other tech companies to protect users’ data. The website is managed and maintained by a hosting company that keeps an eye on the performance and the security aspect.
We also have a data protection policy in place, which is protected by law. We have gone to great lengths to reduce and minimise the amount of the risks.
- The second answer is about big tech taking advantage of users and selling them as commodities.
This is a common situation. Have you wondered why after talking on the phone with someone, as soon as you hang up, an advert pops up showing the same product you were talking about? It looks like the phone is listening to your conversation.
These adverts you see are based on the information they have about you, the interest you have shown to similar products. Whereas it is easy for law or enforcement authorities to track down and fine small companies like Afrisellnet if they breach privacy laws. But at the same time, big tech companies take advantage of users’ data without paying . They have the money and resources to silence the story and blame the users themselves for being reckless. This can have a negative impact on a small company like Afrisellnet.
Yet big tech companies are not doing more damage than cyber criminals- the online predators whose role is to sabotage personal data and information by selling it on the dark web. Companies like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter offer free resources to educate users on online safety while using their platforms.
We are living in a new era where we cannot go off the internet. Even if we do, we will still face challenges. We depend on smart homes and gadgets used in houses which may expose personal information that can be harvested or exploited by criminals. Most people use a smart television, a smart fridge, a smart meter. These gadgets contain microchips that store our personal data.
Finally, Afrisellnet has big ambitions. What is your idea of success for the company?
To bring the community together and be able to build strong relations to aid development, support and growth in five years’ time.
To encourage members of the African diaspora to be close to their culture.
Our aims include educating the youth on the benefits of settling in African countries and the endless potential offered by the continent. By doing so it will shine a more positive light on Africa and attract more investors.
We want to create an environment for youths to learn soft skills, African traditional ideals based on respect, moral and ethical values in order to bring about community cohesion and build strong relations that will lead to personal development and growth.
We wish to offer parenting courses in order to reduce youth crime and violence. For this, we intend to collaborate with professionals to achieve the best results.