Back to Africa
Happy to be back to Africa, this time it will imply for me to look at the context with different eyes because I’m going not as a humanitarian worker but as a professional consultant/advisor for a Colombian enterprise that want to expand their business into the African continent.
I’m sure I’ll discover interesting aspects that before couldn’t see as I had a strong focus in humanitarian aid. My current attitude is to see wider, lateral thinking, innovation, but especially sensing and a lot of deep observation.
Other interesting challenge is that I don’t have enough knowledge (yet) about the sector this enterprise functions, however I’d balance, and hopefully overcome, with my skills in empathic networking, cultural sensitivity and leadership that are key strengths to build true human relations that would allow the creation of solid and lasting commercial relations.
First time travelling to north Africa, in this opportunity Morocco, in concrete Casablanca and Rabat. Here some first impressions I wrote then, without too much of editing:
Looking throughout the plane’s window came my first surprise: Morocco is not only desert and camels but high mountains (the Atlas) and a lot of cultivated area in the north. The landscape at the end of the year is very green and one can see an ongoing active land preparation for cultivation.
The presence of police checking your passport after you just passed immigration, created a flash back of the time when we enter, some years ago, war-torn Angola while it was still under severe effects of the long war they suffered there. It was also the same feeling on my way out of the country as the security scrutiny is done by policemen and few meters ahead, it is verified by another police officer in a clear intimidation attitude. Custom’s officer has this attitude also.
Going from the airport to Casablanca by road one can appreciate the magnitude of the investment done in highways and railways. The principal cities are well connected (Casablanca, Marrakech, Rabat, Fes) by modern infrastructure and is visible that is undergoing effort. Some of those cities are constructing tramway system to alleviate the chaotic road traffic.
Impressive is also the size of the port and how they have built industrial zones along the several kilometers of port and coast in Casablanca. Can’t say anything about the services of the port as I didn’t have first-hand information but I imagine that is probably also very informal and disorganized.
My current attitude is to see wider, lateral thinking, innovation, but especially sensing and a lot of deep observation
Inside the city, couple of things called my attention strongly. First, the high presence of beggars, majority of them from African countries of non-Arabic ethnicities in their migratory trip for a better future and Syrians that have flew the conflict. Another aspect was how modern, luxurious and westernized shopping areas coexist with poverty, underprivilege and even misery.
Lots of construction sites ongoing, private and public, some of them seems never finished but other move on very fast and with excellent quality as it is easily seen at the impressive side walk along the sea side near the second biggest mosque in the world (Hassan II)
Train stations in Casablanca and Rabat are also under construction or have just been finished. The service is used by large numbers as the cost is low and the trains keep scheduled arrival and departure times. Some renovation in the fleet (of trains) should be seriously considered and also some cleanness inside and outside as it is difficult to see through the windows.
Food was great, but bit disappointed not to have found more Moroccan restaurants, but mostly Italians, French, Asian and Vegetarian options. Very different to what we saw in India where local food was predominant.
I’ve left to the end the most exciting experience of my trip: the sharing taxi!
Those are called little taxis (petit taxi) and people can hop in and hop off as their convenience along a route that the taxi driver is adapting to the users inside the car at the moment. Going to A to B one can easily have different companions during the trajectory and each one pay accordingly to the distance he or she was in the vehicle.
It is a very democratic way to share a public transport in a city where buses are scarce and crowded.
I loved the experience of the sharing taxi despite that the first two times I use it I felt bit uncomfortable, unsecure as that kind of things would be very dangerous in other parts of the world.
In general, interesting feelings about Morocco, lots of opportunities of a country emerging economically although not always for all its citizens.