As a part of my learning trip, I arrived yesterday to Accra, Ghana where I will be for one week. Travelling from Nairobi to Accra would have been as easy as travelling from Barcelona (where I was last week). But that’s not the case for most of intra-Africa business travel. There are very few flight connections — an important hindrance for companies to operate on a Pan-African basis.
One of the African business leaders I’ve interviewed shared some of his travel stories with me: in his first trip from Nigeria to Gambia, the initial itinerary was to fly from Lagos to Dakar, Senegal, stay there over night, and on the next day fly with a different airline to Banjul, Gambia. Early morning, he was notified that this second flight had been cancelled. As he had an important meeting that morning, on the road he was. Supposedly, it was going to take 4 hours: 8 hours later he was still on the road. But upon arrival, the trip hadn’t finished yet: the next hurdle was to take a ferry — one that offered transport not only to people but also to cows and the like. By the time he arrived, the meeting had dissolved.
But he’s a perseverant man. On his second trip to Gambia, the plane had a bird strike. As the bird had got into the engine, they had to land in Sierra Leone. But there are no flights from Sierra Leone to Gambia thus they could not be re-routed. Instead, they had to wait about 60 hours for another plane to come from Lagos and pick them up.
His own reflections: “How many of such places can you go to in Africa? We want to grow but these are some of the challenges. But that is why it’s good because Westerners will never do it.” — Do you agree with him?
My host in Accra is CEIBS Africa, the campus that IESE’s associated school CEIBS from Shanghai has in Ghana. My main purpose is to interview managers of some Pan-African companies. I’ll have some additional interviews to help me get acquainted with Ghana country.