16 January 2010

On being a foreign advisor in a developing country government

The land of zero productivity?
It almost seems as if things are deliberately done in the most backwards fashion possible in order to make things as ineffective as possible.... 
My experiences at work have surpassed my original expectations of how bizarre and illogical things here were going to be
or Underpaid civil servants?
My boss has effectively been out on training to Canada, Tunisia, Italy, Washington (ehm... bankland), Japan and a bunch of other places I can't remember, which means that I have barely seen him in the past 3 months. 
For as important as I clearly am :-) , there are other more important people and matters he has to deal with which pile up on is desk or queue up in front of his door. No one else can take decisions, everything waits. 
Halfway through, I mentioned the fact to a colleague, who burst in laughter and told me "Do you know how much he would make just by sitting in office? 500 cedis a month" (about $350). 
I shut up.
and The comforts of daily chaos?
You also get to see all of the glorious idiosyncrasies of a workplace in which many staff are underpaid, underemployed and under-supervised. It's not a secret that many civil services manage the double act of being both understaffed and (on the whole) underworked... 
Many are expected to do an incredible amount of work for salaries that wouldn't get a European gas attendant out of bed... how many readers can really say with any certainty that they could motivate themselves to mechanically enter data into a spreadsheet for eight hours a day (the working day in much of Sub-Saharan Africa is 8:00am to 5:00pm, with an hour for lunch) for the equivalent of $100 per month – or less?

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