25 Feb

Yeah, I said it. Be focused! Okay, I typed it… But I typed it in CAPS, embellished with exclamation marks and did all this while perched on my chair at an angle exuding a distinct air of authority. And as an ADHD’er, for me to claim any authority on matters of focus, y’all be sure I this is grave business.

Let me explain myself…. *Stand back people, Loco has an opinion and she’s not afraid to use it*

Earlier today I had an unsavory Barclays Bank experience. The long and short of  it: As it turns out, an account holder with Barclays Bank of Kenya cannot transact in Tanzania without an ATM card. I wont get into that discussion here, catch the highlights on my twitterfeed if you must.

The discussion on the Barclays issue eventually ended up in an offline conversation with one right honorable Mr. Bankelele (Esq, Infamous) of  the top rated corporate blog bankelele.blogspot.com. In retrospect, I cringe in embarrassment just thinking of the fervor with which I engaged Banks on the topic of delivery of service by institutions. I’m so unschooled in the intracacies of business I can only how much of a twat I must have come off as. But Banks in his infinite patience was very gentle with me. He heard me out, nodded where appropriate and volleyed all my crazed ranting in the most calm fashion. Yeah, he’s a superstar like that.

Anyway, after our chat, I got to thinking about industry in Africa. For the purposes of this post, I’ll narrow down to the the service industry in East Africa, specifically retail. I’ll get right into it with a short illustration. Assume  you’re in Dar es salaam, staying at the New Africa Hotel. In this assumption, you run out of shower gel on Saturday at about 4pm and you dash out to get some. Within a radius of about 2km, there’s a very high probability that you’d find only 2 stores open to get this. Now, this is smack dab in the middle of Dar, within that same radius, there’s about 10 – 15 stores. If in the assumption you needed something pharmaceutical, my friend, you’d be screwed. None of the 5 or 6 pharmacies in the area are open on Saturday at that hour!

Now, if these stores were open, one thing is for sure, they wouldn’t lack traffic. Woolworths across the street for instance: Say they were open for business on a Saturday afternoon, the costs theyd incur on Staff, utilities and whatever else wouldn’t total to anything above 200,000Tsh. Last time I was at woolies I spent almost double that in one fell swoop all by my lonesome. Cost recovered. If their clientele profile comprises of higher LSM individuals, a lot of them working in fast paced corporates, it stands to reason that their store traffic would actually be notable at this time. But they’re not open for business.

What am I getting at? The illustration I’ve given can be scaled, reworked, skewed and replicated in many ways against the broader cross section of the service industry in East Africa. Efficiency in delivery, customer relationship management even basic consideration of consumer needs, is largely wanting and that’s a fact. My intention is not to undermine in any way where we are coming from and where we’re headed. But that notwithstanding, if most service providers put in just a little effort, there would be notable improvements in basic efficiencies and subsequent increments in (I think) in industry revenues. I’m no economist, but take the woolies example, however marginal, and multiply by the number of retail outlets out there, throw in the telcos, perhaps a couple of banks here and there, then ruminate on the effect that would have on the economy from that level.

So yeah, I’ll say it again, perhaps what we need is to #BEFOCUSED just a little more.

Disclaimer: I’ve made a helluva lot of assumptions in this post. As I said, my conversance in business affairs is peasant at best. I may be way off base on the whole economic theorization, but what I know for damn sure is that a whole lot of people like me would be a lot less frustrated if the service industry just delivered better.


One Response to “#BEFOCUSED!!!!!!”

  1. bankelele February 27, 2012 at 6:30 pm #

    Hi there thanks for the comments.

    I’ve been doing a series of posts to try & discover different practices in Africa, and they are quite varied..just say that 3 hour lunch afternoon siestas are common in some countries, and while it will make a visitor pull their hair at the incompetence or lack of business zeal, it’s just how things are done – but they are #focused in other areas & their values are the art of bargaining, honesty & integrity etc.)

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