Working in a foreign country is always a challenge, as every country has its unique culture and traditions. Ghana is no different. During a 10-week internship in the West African nation, I discovered that its working culture is vastly different from Singapore’s.
As Singaporeans, we are always in a rush. Productivity and efficiency are the two philosophies driving the way we work. It is always about making the best use of every second you have.
But in Ghana, the pace of working is much slower and more relaxed, so much so that I initially had trouble adjusting to it. Ghanaians generally take their time to finish their work, unless there is a need to rush. This does not necessarily mean that they are lazy, because I noticed that most of my colleagues would stay back late to finish up their work.
Moreover, a lot of them have a hunger to learn. When I first arrived, I shared some tips and tricks in using Excel as I noticed that they were not fully utilising the software to maximise their efficiency. Eventually, this became regular sessions where I would teach them various functions of Excel. Once, they even asked for an extra tune-up on a weekend.
An outing with colleagues
It is exposure to different environments like Ghana which helps us better understand the world around us. Such experiences gives us insights and perspectives that books can never impart. Even as a student, I have always felt that it is important to visit other countries physically as there is so much more to gain from immersing in different cultures and perspectives. Too often we are obsessed with academic qualifications that we lose sight of what those metrics are supposed to achieve for us in the first place. It is true perhaps that doing well in school academically will probably secure us a good job and a good head start. But 10 years down the road, would it be grades or life experiences that will matter more?
From a more practical standpoint, Africa is home to some of the fastest growing economies in the world. And that is drawing multinational corporations and businesses to the continent.
While it is probably true that Africa is the one of the most undeveloped continents in the world, it also offers the greatest growth potential. With 54 countries and a population exceeding one billion, there are many possibilities for the continent. Africa may not have the infrastructure and talent found in Singapore, but in the long run, there is tremendous opportunity for gains in Africa.
Despite this, many continue to shun Africa out of fear. But as investment guru Warren Buffet famously said, “Be fearful when others are greedy and greedy when others are fearful.”
Africa should be seen not as continent to be afraid of, but as a land of opportunities. Most still prefer to go to more developed countries, but why go where everyone else is going? If you can survive Africa, you can no doubt survive anywhere else in the world.