Only Thing to Fear's Fear of Paperwork

Dec 19 , 2021
By Kidist Yidnekachew

My husband, being a techie, works on various projects aimed at technology and youth, mostly for free. He wants to contribute to the next generation of Ethiopians becoming tech entrepreneurs and wants the country to become the technology hub of Africa. It may sound farfetched, as the country is still dragging far behind the likes of Kenya, Nigeria and Egypt, but the talent and the progress in the field over the past two years offer hope for a bright future.

One of his projects is centred around the relatively new but fast-growing esports industry, which boomed in user base during the height of the COVID-19 induced lockdowns. It is to the competitive gaming industry what the Olympics is to athletes. There are Ethiopian gamers, and African, that have skills no less impressive than that of the competition from Europe. Yet, we never see Ethiopia represented in esport events.

The initiative my husband and his friends from all over the world started was to train African competitive gamers on how to conduct themselves in tournaments to participate in international events and bring home the much-needed prize money that can often exceed half a million dollars. Two years later, feeling like they were breaking new ground, they hosted a professional league tournament.

Since most esport events are mostly online following the international standard, a registration form was set up and began registering participants. However, to the founders' frustration, almost 80pc of applicants decided to directly contact them with questions that were moot. This was not the first time my husband expressed his experience with this type of behaviour.

In an experiment, they guided several that would contact him through the registration giving them no more information than what the application already would have asked and they completed it. The issue was based on the notion that it is better to ask the person directly than read the instructions. Because of this hiccup, the registration that was supposed to last two weeks took four months, but that was just the beginning.

Esport tournaments like football tournaments have divisions and qualifiers. Once the event began on the third of December and some teams were eliminated and others were moved to the next divisions, they would need to move to other platforms. But the message stating what teams needed to proceed would be read by the individuals and not implemented. Instead, they would call and ask if they had to do what the instructions said now or if it was at a later stage. Teams from Sudan, Somalia, Djibouti and Ghana also joined their tournament and did not seem to have any problems or need validation.

“If you were applying to college and didn’t understand the application or instructions, would you call up the dean of admissions and ask him to explain it to you?” was what my husband used and overused as an analogy when speaking to the contestants.

It is not just esport applications many young people have a hard time dealing with in the country. Take the growing business of university application services. People pay organisations to fill out applications for them to apply for colleges abroad.

Why would anyone do that?

These institutions will not do anything we cannot do ourselves as long as we are careful and consistent enough. It is not that some of these people paying for these services do not understand it. They want to be told one-on-one what to put and where to put it. It is sad and dangerous. One of the most important skills people need to apply is to know how to surf through documents, analyse, identify what works and does not, and communicate back clearly.

It is also a selfish act because they would instead get an answer immediately not to waste their time. Still, they do not mind the other party wasting their time and energy repeating the same thing several times to many people. At least, when it comes to college applications, they are paying for it.

PUBLISHED ON Dec 19,2021 [ VOL 22 , NO 1129]

Kidist Yidnekachew is interested in art, human nature and behaviour. She has studied psychology, journalism and communications and can be reached at (

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