Nicholas D. Kristof, writing for the New York Times, has a lot of interesting facts about the growth, opportunities and the potential, in Africa, but, he says, a lot of African countries shoot themselves in the foot with burdensome procedures, rules, laws and uncompetitive minimum wages.
Firstly, and to get it out the way, the minimum wage he is referring to, is the one the Kingdom of Lesotho enforces, at $120 per month, as opposed to $37 per month in Bangladesh. $37 translates to less than R370 per month, mate, and no one can live on that – even at $120 per month, the living standards are going to be horrific.
But the really insteresting point, for me, was the plethora of procedures needed to start up a company, make a legal claim or build a warehouse. At my former company, we were paperwork-heavy, despite being a tech company. You couldn’t shit without a writ, it sometimes felt. But I saw the importance of it, because our IT equipment was dubious at best, unless you were friends with one of the directors, and the IT team sometimes managed to lose whole acres of information as servers were switched on or off, moved or very likely, reprogrammed to run a game. Paperwork, in its physical existence, was less likely to be affected by these whims. So we printed everything. EVERYTHING.
“Oh, look – I’m having a thought!” – PRINT
“I’m taking leave!” PRINT
“Your leave is denied!” PRINT
“We’ve run out of paper!” PRINT a request to replenish
That paradigm was knocked out cold, put in a bag with weights tied to its feet, and thrown in the river, when I arrived at my new company, in March this year.
“We’re not fond of paperwork here – if you need to take leave just send an email. Be responsible and manage yourself.” were the words I heard on my first day.
So good, the first thing I am told after having proven myself totally irresponsible and wholly untrustworthy, when I cataclysmically brought my old job to an end in a haze of crystal meth addiction, is that actually, no one is going to baby you, and if you want to get ahead, get on with it and damn well grow up.
And maybe that’s the vision that needs to be imprinted on the young leaders who are going to take us forward in the African Revolution.
We are on the brink of such amazing successes – these are already happening – it would be a travesty to lose out now, because someone didn’t fill out Form 86B, with a black pen.
There are great ideas out there, but now we need to engage the activists and the pragmatists within ourselves, and stop sitting around talking about what we want to achieve, and make cute drawings of how we’re going to plot the road map that will hopefully take us there – just get up off your ass, and do it, Africa!
So many have said it of late, and I repeat it unashamedly, again: “Africa, it’s our turn!”
Rise, and shine!
© Dave Luis 2012. All Rights Reserved.