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Day 6+7 - Patience is the Key

03.03.2012

Have you ever wondered how foreigners experience Nigeria on their first trip to the country? If yes, then this is the blog to follow in the next few weeks.

Day 6 and 7

February 27-28, 2012 - Day 6 and 7

Cultural differences is something, you will experience on any travel outside your own country. Some differences are small and unimportant, while others seem large and incomprehensive until you learn to manage in the new environment. Seeing that my trip to Nigeria will only last two weeks, I am able to spot these differences, at times be annoyed with them - but rarely fully understand why things work the way, they do.

One example is the food in Nigeria. On my first morning in Nigeria, breakfast consisted of french fries and eggs, and especially fries seems to be a crowd favourite in Nigeria, together with white bread. Because these are not the most common ingredients in my diet at home, I try to change it up with yoghurt and different fruits. It all works out, but I must admit that I do at times look forward to dark bread and a homemade salad when I return to Denmark.

Another area, where cultural differences have proved challenging, is in the attitude towards time management. In Denmark, people are very task-oriented and will be offended if anyone turns up late to a scheduled meeting. In Nigeria, the important focus is on relationships, and specific tasks and meetings then come second. After working at Seismonaut Africa for seven months, I knew that this difference existed before travelling to Nigeria - but somehow it has still surprised me. In fact, I would say that the most important lesson I have learned so far is that no matter how obvious the business potential may be, time delays may occur anyway. Let me give you a few examples:

- A meeting with a craftsman and a visit to a local market had to be postponed to the next day. Collins and I waited for three hours and tried calling several times, but the craftsman was out of reach and we had to put our plans on standby.

- A simple trip into the city took 2.5 hours when all we had to do was buy a measuring tape and visit the bank. 1.5 of those hours was simply waiting time at the bank.

- Picking up my luggage in the airport took 1.5 hours, and driving out of the airport took 30 minutes by itself. Acually, the level of traffic means that driving in the cities is full of waiting in itself - but thankfully I'm not the only one who shows signs of impatience after fifteen minutes of completely still traffic.

Finally, I was at a meeting with One Stop Investment Center where everything actually took place on schedule. This was a welcomed surprise, and the meeting itself was also a success. One Stop Investment Center is an investment facilitation mechanism which brings relevant government agencies to one location to provide efficient and transparent services to investors. Knowing how this investment center operates, and which services they provide to companies wanting to do business in Africa, is very valuable knowledge for Seismonaut Africa. And it is motivational to see how the Nigerian government takes active steps towards facilitating investment in their country's development.

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