Work Efficiency

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Jun 22, 2018 23:19
For a lot of times, I have been told that how inefficient African people can be in their work. I don’t believe that at the first place. However, I am now fully convinced that it is really true, and the conferences I have attended recently make me think deeper about that.
I work for a Chinese international construction enterprise, which has a branch office in Guinea. This is a west Africa country next to the Atlantic Ocean. I’m a civil engineer, currently working on bidding. I have been working here for months, but barely deal with the government officials.
The interpreter and I had made the appointment with the employer to have our first meeting on Tuesday, June 19, to discuss certain contractual conditions of a bid we had won a month ago. We were supposed to meet in a conference room at 11 a.m. in the Bureau of Contract Management. On arrival at 10:50, we were surprised to find that no one was there, and the conference room was still locked. We once had the thought that we might be at the wrong floor. A clerk came over, told us to wait for a moment. We did. Over an hour later, another clerk came over, opened the conference room and let us in. Then again, we were told to wait patiently. Another 30 minutes passed(by) before we were finally greeted by the representatives of the employer. We aimed to complete the report of modifications of contractual clauses that day. Shortly after we started, the representatives began to argue about which government departments should sign the report and which ones should not. Then they made the decision that due to the absence of representatives of some certain departments, the report would not be signed that day, though we could proceed the modifications as planned.
During the next 3 hours, they kept discovering tiny mistakes they had made before like misspelled terms, wrongly calculated figures, missing names etc. Most of the time, we were just sitting there, bored, listening to them debating with each other.
Eventually, the report came out. The copy of the report would, however, not to be given to us before we went upstairs and paid “some money”. We understood that clearly. I brought with me 1 million Guinea Francs, which is worth about 110 USD. I gave it to one of the officials, but was told straight that it was not enough, not even close to what they expected, and the next day, I must bring 50 million there to them. That was such a shock that I had to call my boss. I failed to get the report that day. Boss was attending a meeting back in China with our local employee Ousmane.
Next day, my boss made a decision based on his past experience that we didn’t have to give that much, but 10 million instead. After a long process of different representatives signing the report copies, which lasted almost 3 hours again, we were told to wait outside the building, precisely in a parking lot. Then an official came over, led us to a SUV, opened the door, let us in. We tried to explain that there was something wrong with our cash flow and that 10 million was all we got at that moment. The official nodded, accepted the money without saying much. Back to the office, we were told that due to some complicated problems, we could not have the report. Interpreter and I looked at each other with a sad knowing smile. That afternoon, boss let our local employee Ousmane, who has the ability to deal with such troublesome situation, to call some officials in the bureau. Then we were told to come next day at 9 a.m.
Thursday, we came to the bureau right on time, at 9 o’clock and was welcomed the previous official with a cold face. Because he had some urgent affaires to deal with, we must wait in the conference room. We waited from 9am till 11:30am. Not a single person came during that period of time. We came to the official and told him that we had to go. He said he was sorry and took the report out. We were quite upset discovering a figure mistake when examining the signatures and the clauses closely. As a result, we had to sit tight in the conference room, waiting for their correction and signatures. That took another 4 hours. Finally, again, we were told to come over tomorrow, for some officials were absent. This morning, things went not very smoothly either. Long story short, we finally got this report by noon.
To be honest, in China, we have bureaucracy and corruption as well, but compared with what I experienced here in Guinea, they are nothing. When it comes to work efficiency, administrative officials in China are much more reliable and responsible than their counterparts here. Chinese people tend to regard working hard and being responsible as the basic moral standards in life, and I think they might be the most essential national characteristics that most Africans people would never own.