|Posted by Oladipo Awoyinfa on September 2, 2013 at 4:02 PM||comments (0)|
THE Nigerian Ambassador to Qatar HE Shuaibu Adamu Ahmed has reiterated the embassy's willingness to help all Qatari investors get the necessary information needed to set up businesses in Nigeria and also help fast-track the processing of their documents to facilitate their visits to the oilrich country
|Posted by Oladipo Awoyinfa on September 2, 2013 at 3:47 PM||comments (0)|
Nigeria has formally opened a diplomatic mission in Qatar, amid growing cooperation between the two countries on political and economic matters.
|Posted by Oladipo Awoyinfa on November 18, 2011 at 8:47 AM||comments (1)|
|Posted by Femi Awoyinfa on September 22, 2011 at 11:40 AM||comments (2)|
“Never ascribe to malice, that which can be adequately explained by Incompetence” – Napoleon Bonarparte (1769 – 1821)
There are many incompetent people in the world. All around us in this oil rich densely populated country of Nigeria in West Africa; in the private sector and in government, we see various levels of incompetence. This is even more glaring in terms of basic service delivery.
Incompetence has been defined as the lack of physical or intellectual ability or qualifications. It can also mean bungling: showing lack of skill or aptitude. The New Oxford Dictionary of English defines competence as “the ability to do something successfully or efficiently; the scope of a person's or group's knowledge or ability; a skill or ability”.
Research has now shown that most incompetent people do not know they are incompetent. In a study conducted by Justin Kruger and David Dunning at Cornell University, they noted a cognitive bias in which unskilled people make poor decisions and reach erroneous conclusions, but their incompetence denies them the ability to recognize their mistakes. This leads to inflated self-assessment, a phenomenon known as the Dunning-Kruger effect.
The psychologists proposed that, for a given skill, incompetent people will tend to over-estimate their own level of skill; fail to recognize genuine skill in others; and fail to recognize the extremity of their inadequacy, making it near impossible for them to acknowledge that they require training to substantially improve. Earlier scientists such as Charles Darwin and Bertrand Russell have also lent their ideas on the subject of incompetence. "One of the painful things about our time is that those who feel certainty are stupid, and those with any imagination and understanding are filled with doubt and indecision" quoted Russell. Charles Darwin noted that “Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge”.
Nowhere has incompetence been more glaring in Nigeria over the years than in the management of resources at the national level and in the private sector. The collapse of the banks, stock market crash, perennial inflation, extreme poverty, low life expectancy, insecurity, high cost of governance and poor service delivery are all evidences of incompetence at various levels. Critics will be quick to blame governments for national incompetence but the greatest promoter of incompetence is the society.
Specifically, organizations have the potential to create incompetent leadership and promote incompetent persons to positions of greater power and responsibility. In his book “On the Psychology of Military Intelligence”, Norman Dixon listed several characteristics and values that the military holds in high esteem and strives to achieve, as well as their negative consequences. He mentioned “Uniformity” and “Hierarchy” and the fact that ambitious and achievement-oriented officers are highly esteemed and respected in the military, so much so that self-serving and vainglorious officers are sometimes promoted to high leadership, with disastrous consequences. He argued that Incompetence can be found in any industry, field or discipline. But incompetence in war takes on significance far greater than in any other field.
The propensity to push individuals upward in a hierarchical environment, despite their glaring lack of skills or aptitude due to various reasons such as nepotism, favoritism, national character, quota system, influence, connections, family name and other such motives which are clearly not merit-based adds to the incompetence bank.
Dr. Lawrence Peter and Raymond Hull in their book “The Peter Principle” proposed that ‘in a hierarchy every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence’. This means that individuals tend to be promoted until they reach a position where they can no longer work competently. They theorized that people who show competence are promoted whether or not they are qualified to perform competently at the next level. Eventually they go beyond their limits, become incompetent, and stop getting promoted. This is known as final placement.
We have already seen this phenomenon in Nigeria at several levels with the scenarios of the successful entrepreneur who turns out to be a lousy politician, the competent senator who transforms into an incompetent governor. Will a good husband make a caring father? Or a loving fiancée a dutiful wife? It is important to note that the individual’s incompetence is not necessarily a result of the higher-ranking position being difficult, but simply that the job may be crucially different from the one in which the individual previously excelled, and thus requires different work skills, which the individual may not possess. This should however not be a universal excuse for all manifestations of incompetence.
There are many ways to address incompetence in our systems and processes. One method is to refrain from promoting an individual until they show the skills and work habits needed to succeed at the next higher job. An argument is that employees who are dedicated to their current jobs should not be automatically promoted for their efforts, and instead should be rewarded with, maybe, a pay raise, while remaining in their current position. Employees can be promoted only after being sufficiently trained to the new position. This places the burden of discovering individuals with poor managerial capabilities before, as opposed to after they are promoted, preventing them from reaching their peak levels of competence and thus, incompetence.
How do we then deal with men who have clearly been promoted beyond their level of competence? Promote them to a special duties position, including such as Side-Issue Specialization, a commonplace substitute for competence characterized by the motto: "Look after the molehills and the mountains will look after themselves."
The corollary to the Peter Principle is that “in time, every position tends to be occupied by an employee who is incompetent to carry out their duties". In all organizations, work is accomplished by those employees who have not yet reached their level of incompetence. The nature of poor organizations is that while it might promote incompetence, it also actively discourages ‘super-competence’. This is more likely to result in dismissal than promotion. Bureaucratic institutions (e.g. the civil service) cannot handle such disruptions. This is because a super-competent employee “…violates the first commandment of hierarchical life: namely that the hierarchy must be preserved…”.
Now that you are aware that there is a disastrous final promotion imminent in your career that might reveal your incompetence, how do you avoid it? Two options present themselves: you can avoid rising to the final placement by turning down lucrative career and political offers. This is known as Peter’s Parry. A more practical technique is Creative Incompetence. – “create the impression that you have already reached your level of incompetence’ thereby effectively terminating any further promotional opportunities.
Today, with realistic and effective training and development plans, innovative use of information, technology, and effective feedback, incompetence on a personal and organizational scale can be eliminated.
|Posted by Femi Awoyinfa on September 22, 2011 at 11:35 AM||comments (0)|
Nigeria is in dire need of quality public services. Good quality public services delivered in cost-effective ways are integral to social and economic development. They have the potential to enhance democratic processes by promoting fairness, civic responsibility and social cohesion. They add public value to a country in terms of its attractiveness as a place to live, work and invest.
The term ‘public services’ here refers to the combination of government-provided and commercial private sector services being provided to the Nigerian public as clients, as consumers, citizens, but most importantly as customers.
The public as customers is not a concept that has gained much ground in the design and delivery of goods and services being provided by private and public institutions in Nigeria. Most of us have had direct experiences with the officials of the Nigeria Police, the Vehicle Inspection Officers (VIO), LASTMA, Local government, immigration/custom services; traffic wardens, nurses in public hospitals, bank tellers, customer care agents in telecoms companies, airline ticketing officers, air hostesses, receptionists etc in the course of our daily routine. The almost-routine off-handedness, impatience and discourtesy sometimes exhibited by almost all these front-line officers interfacing with the public is disturbing.
The quality of service delivery provided by public institutions has been very poor over the years. Sadly the inefficiency which characterized these services have crept into the private sector. Little wonder the average Nigerian citizen is daily assaulted with poor customer service delivery by operators in almost all sectors of the economy.
Attempts have been made to improve quality of services provided by the government to the Nigerian populace over the years. The SERVICOM programme launched by the Federal Government in 2005 was designed to address obvious gaps in service delivery using some selected sectors as pilots. This concept originated and was preceded by a UK-led team which was assembled to undertake a diagnostic audit of service delivery in Nigeria. The team identified numerous gaps in the policy to delivery chain of public services. They discovered that many public services were inaccessible, of poor quality and indifferent to customer needs.
Our public offices have for too long been showcases for inefficiency and dishonesty whilst being impediments to implementation of sound government policies. Nigerians deserve better. The Service Delivery Initiative was thus a step in the process of moving towards a government more in touch with its people, but potentially an important one to create momentum on the part of government, and a culture of demand among Nigerians. In this context, a Nigerian Service Delivery Research Team visited the United Kingdom (UK) in 2003 to investigate how the British government had gone about improving service delivery. Based on their feedback, the government supported design and implementation of a Public Service Delivery Programme (PSDP) for Nigeria. The then Nigerian President and the British Prime Minister tasked a team to analyze key service delivery issues and develop a roadmap for practical, targeted and achievable service delivery.
The Service Compact for All Nigerians was therefore the Nigerian government’s effort aimed at instilling quality into government services. The initiative appeared to be built around a total quality management philosophy which consists of a series of quality improvement activities involving employees, customers and top management in a joint effort to achieve long-term service delivery improvements. The jury is still out on the effectiveness of the program which showed great promise in its earlier years.
The malfunctioning of the Nigerian public service has been long and sustained. The result is low quality expectations and trust in public services on the part of consumers, and ultimately, in the failure of government programmes and institutional development. Though there have been many positive improvements both in the quality and in the delivery of public services in recent years which can be built upon, there are still significant shortcomings which need to be addressed as well as new and emerging challenges to be met. As a result of continuing population growth, major demographic changes, inward migration into cities and changing values in our society there are greater demands on current services. There are also rising expectations on the part of the public for better and more responsive customer services to meet these new and changing needs.
Customer service excellence means many things to many people and is something often noticed more by its absence than its presence. From banking halls to restaurants, supermarkets to airports, hospitals and hotels, a cursory observation will reveal glaring customer service deficiencies. Customer service management is full of dilemmas, questions and trade-offs. How much should an organization invest in employing efficient and dedicated front-line staff to prevent customers from queuing? How do you deal with highs and lows of demand? Is the customer really always right?
Good customer service is founded on the belief that good customer service is good for business. This belief is not a universal law. Some businesses with great service do not survive. Some businesses with poor customer service make huge profits. Organizations may get away with it, relying on consumers’ acceptance of despair, confusion and lack of clear information. Indeed many do prosper in the short term.
But experience suggests consumers usually get their revenge in the end, and for individual organizations or, in some instances, entire industries - the cumulative impact of even-greater reputational damage can be fatal.
One of the areas I believe contributes to the dearth of quality customer service in Nigeria is the practical non-existence of proactive consumer watchdogs. Many organizations in various sectors are getting away (or so it seems) with almost anything and everything. Take the aviation industry for instance. Airlines have become very cost-oriented as opposed to service oriented. Air travel which used to be refreshing and exciting is now a pain. The flying experience in Nigeria now leaves many passengers frustrated and angry. Airports are full to the brim at the departure lounges, with non-functional air-conditioning systems, insufficient and badly designed chairs ensuring your discomfort while you wait. Many airlines have taken away free meals, as well as courtesy and timeliness. I recently had to wait nine hours after checking-in for an early morning flight from Lagos to Abuja. The flight that was scheduled to depart at 6.50am did not take off till after 3pm. It would have even been decent for the airline to properly communicate their difficulties to the hapless customers. But it was not so. This has now become a regular occurrence on the domestic routes in Nigeria.
The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority is constitutionally empowered to monitor the activities of the airlines operating in Nigeria. Over the years, it appears that the agency has abdicated its responsibilities to regulate, supervise and monitor the activities of Nigerian and foreign carriers and their interaction with passengers. The Consumer Protection department of the NCAA was launched in March 2001 to ensure that all aviation consumers obtain the best services in air transportation. This role has not been played successfully. Article 71 of section XV of the Civil Aviation Act 2006 talks about compensation schemes for passengers and other allied aviation services consumers. The Authority is required to formulate schemes for suitable compensation of passengers and other aviation and allied service consumers arising from different forms of grievances.
International best practices prescribe how airlines should address cancelled or delayed flights. A paragraph in the contract of carriage ideally represents the legal agreement between the passenger and the airline which describes the airline’s responsibility when a flight is delayed or canceled. In the U.S this clause is known as Rule 240. It is not designed as a customer service initiative which airlines eagerly promise. Instead it is a customer’s last clause which dictates what airlines must do (and often don’t do) when flights are delayed or cancelled ‘due to late arrival of operating aircraft’ – a frequent lame excuse for domestic airline operators in Nigeria. Airline passengers will do well to refer to the contract of carriage or conditions on their tickets if they need to argue for compensation.
The real test of whether or not there is a commitment to quality delivery of public services on the part of providers is their willingness to set up effective avenues to provide redress for those who feel that they have a legitimate complaint about the service they have received or the service they have been refused. Complaints systems should be used as a source of management information to quickly and easily identify areas for improving service delivery. These systems should be accessible to customers, provide timely responses and enable redress where appropriate.
Training should also be an important mechanism for re‐focusing organizations on customer satisfaction as a new priority and for developing or strengthening their customer service skills. In addition, structured communication with employees should help service delivery agencies identify and respond to customer service challenges. Research has shown that many individuals and employees attribute poor customer service to low staff morale, unfavorable working conditions, and poor treatment of employees. A particular indigenous airline operating on the foreign route is a case in point, with many of its employees addressing their grievances publicly through various media. Unless employee needs are met, it is difficult to meet the needs of customers.
There are many statistics to support the business case for customer service excellence. If a customer patronizes a particular airline twice a month on the domestic route, he is worth over eight million Naira to that airline over the course of ten years. That’s just the beginning. A repeat customer is any company’s key source of word-of-mouth advertising. If this happy customer recommends just one other passenger to the airline he would be worth over sixteen million over the same period. An air-hostess looking after a hundred passengers on a flight is handling sixteen billion Naira worth of business. This simple rule, known as lifetime customer value, can be applied to any operation. Let your imagination flourish as you imagine the volume of business controlled by a single waiter in a restaurant, a receptionist in an office or hotel, a front-office teller in a bank and other similar front-line staff.
An increased focus on raising standards involves everybody engaged in the provision of public services. A key element is to get people to accept that they are part of the solution and for this purpose new ways of thinking and sharing responsibility more evenly among all stakeholders are needed. Rather than relying on government to lead this initiative, I challenge the Nigerian private sector to engineer this change, and ensure their continued relevance and survival.
Femi Awoyinfa ([email protected])
About the Author: Femi Awoyinfa is a Management Consultant and an expert in Organizational Development.
Any one with doubts about investing in Africa in genral and Nigeria in particular, should read this!
Twenty years ago, far-sighted investors focused on the emerging and frontier markets of Asia –
especially China and the “four Tigers” of Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan. Most
investors in these markets have been richly rewarded, especially if they bought early and held
patiently.....(please read on)
MUCH has been written about the rise of the BRICs (Brazil, Russia, India and China) and the shift in economic power eastward as Asia outruns the rest of the world. But the surprising success story of the past decade lies elsewhere.
Read the full article by The Economist and re-published by Celebrating Progress Africa by clicking the link below;
|Posted by Femi Awoyinfa on December 10, 2010 at 10:35 AM||comments (0)|
The State of Qatar, a tiny and ambitious nation in the Persian Gulf, recently won the bid to host the FIFA world cup tournament in 2022. This is no longer news. The Middle East has never before hosted a major global sporting event and Qatar's win penultimate Thursday will do much to boost the region's global profile.
But Qatar’s profile has grown steadily in the last decade. Apart from its hefty financial prowess as the world's largest exporter of liquefied natural gas, the current government under the leadership of HH Hamid Bin Khalifa Al Thani has fostered rapid development in this nation previously known for pearling, fishing and trade in the gulf.
Qatar has been inhabited for hundreds of years. It was dominated by the Al Khalifa family of Bahrain until 1868 when the British negotiated the termination of the Bahraini claim, except for the payment of tribute which ended four years later. At the beginning of World War 1, the British recognized Sheik Abdullah bin Jassim Al Thani as Ruler since the Al Thani family had lived in Qatar for 200 years. The ruling Al Thani family continued to hold power until independence in 1971.
Qatar has since transformed itself from a poor British protectorate noted mainly for pearling into an independent state with significant oil and gas revenues. On June 27, 2005 the current Emir HH Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani succeeded his father HH Khalifa bin Hamad, who had ruled the country since 1972. The level of development in Qatar in the successive years has been staggering.
I had the opportunity of visiting Doha, the capital of Qatar for the first time in April 2008 and I was humbled at the level of development in this tiny nation in comparison with the larger and more populous Nigeria. With a population of about 1.5 million people, Qatar approximately shares its population size with Alimosho local government, one of the LGAs in Lagos State, the commercial capital of Nigeria. I have since visited Qatar more than four times and the level of development encountered on each visit is always miles ahead from previous accomplishments.
To get to Qatar, you’ll most likely fly the national airline – Qatar Airways, which boasts of one of the world’s finest and modern fleet of airlines. It is a 5-star airline. Indulge yourself in a business class seat on one of the long haul flights and you will leave earth momentarily. This is a far cry from services of some of Nigeria’s indigenous carriers on the London and New York route whose pictures and promises are at variance with the actual services provided.
Oil and gas have made Qatar the second highest per capita income country and one of the world’s fastest growing. It has proven oil reserves of 15 billion barrels which should enable continued output at current levels for 37 years. Its reserves of natural gas are nearly 26 trillion cubic meters, about 14% of the world’s total, and third largest in the world. But the country is not resting on its oars. Its leaders are strategic and visionary. Qatar has transformed itself into a leader in innovative education and research. The government has committed immense resources to bring knowledge to the people of Qatar and the region, thereby helping to build a skilled human capital base.
Qatar has built an expansive Education city, with branch campuses of six prestigious international institutions delivering world-class educational programs to Qataris. It also has established a Qatar Science and Technology Park (QSTP), bringing research and business together to support the country’s development of a sustainable, knowledge based economy, with Qatar foundation playing a leading role. With over 300 million dollars spent on facilities, the park now boasts of tenants like ConocoPhilips, ExxonMobil, Shell and Total establishing training and research centers that add value to Qatar’s hydrocarbon’s sector. Microsoft and Cisco are also in-house, developing new IT applications. The outcomes of these collaborations will be new technology based enterprises that will help diversify Qatar’s economy.
In all of these Qatar purses a vigorous policy of ‘Qatarization’ under which all joint venture industries and government departments strive to move Qatari nationals into positions of greater authority. Growing numbers of foreign-educated Qataris are returning home to assume key positions formerly occupied by expatriates. Out of its population, only about 350,000 are citizens as much of its workforce (over 85%) are made up of foreigners mainly Indians, Pakistanis, Filipinos and other nationalities.
Qatar has already placed itself as a role model for transformation. The Qatar Financial Center provides financial institutions with world class services in investment, margin, no-interest loans and capital support. The country's economy, forecast to grow by 15.5 per cent in 2010, is expected to soar a staggering 21 per cent in 2011, with a GDP of $128 billion dollars (2010 estimate). This is no doubt one of the world’s fastest growing economies. The Doha Debates, with support from the Qatar Foundation are a well established and highly informative public forum for dialogue and freedom of speech in Qatar. It has become the Middle East’s forum of choice for discussing burning regional and global issues.
Qatar recruits the best of professionals from all over the world, including Nigeria. With no income tax, Qatar, along with Bahrain has one of the lowest tax rates available. I have encountered many Nigerian professionals in many sectors in Doha. From the 5-star hotels to the financial institutions, energy companies and other firms, Nigerians can be counted as one of the countries whose nationals are playing a role in the development of this flat, barren, hot and humid nation with vast potentials. That is why it is dumbfounding to discover that Nigeria is yet to secure firm diplomatic ties by establishing a substantive embassy in Doha like other progressive nations.
Qatar will now host the world in 2022; but there are a number of challenges. The blistering daytime sun in mid-summer, a non-existent rail system and inadequate infrastructure to host half a million world cup fans. But Qatar is up to the task. Under the proposals submitted to FIFA, Qatar would renovate three stadia and build nine new ones, with the 12 stadiums divided among seven host cities. The total cost of the construction and renovation would be around $3 billion, the bid estimates and promises state-of-the-art technology to cool fans and players alike. The ultra-modern Lusail Stadium, which has yet to be built, will host the opening and final matches. With a capacity of 86,000 and surrounded by water, it will take four years to build and is expected to be completed by 2019. Qatar plans to spend $100 billion on infrastructure projects between now and 2015. In that period, the country will construct a $25 billion rail network, an $11 billion airport, a $5.5 billion deep water seaport and a $1 billion crossing to link the new airport with projects in the northern part of Doha, the capital city. An additional $20 billion will also be spent on building new roads.
At malls in Doha, people gathered at electronic shops to watch the voting on television. And then came the huge roar when Sepp Blatter pulled 'Qatar' out of the envelope. 'Thank you for believing in change,' said Qatar's current ruling Emir of the state, HH Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani.
There has been lots of criticism trailing the decision to award the hosting rights of the world cup to Qatar. But the fast developing nation has the right like any other progressive nation to host the tournament. After all it’s a ‘World’ Cup. Congratulations to Qatar.
We are still awaiting our own moment of glory.....and change here in Nigeria.
Text of Article Published on December 10, 2010 in "The Guardian" Newspapers, Nigeria
Africa's economic growth is creating substantial new business opportunities that are often overlooked by global companies. Consumer-facing industries, resources, agriculture, and infrastructure, together could generate as much as $2.6 trillion in revenue annually by 2020, or $1 trillion more than today.
Read more »
This report was prepared by the McKinsey Global Institute.
The links below are for reports produced by the International Finance Corporation on what to expect when "Doing Business in Qatar" and "Doing Business in Ngeria". They are updated annually and makes very interesting reading as they compare various nations based on certain and similar parameters.