On hospitality and view of life in Cameroon

When I set up my first company afronum GIE in Senegal,
it was a lot easier than here with afrotel in Cameroon. There are so many
bureaucratic hassles you fight with that you start to think if the
country really likes to welcome investors/visitors/tourists at all.

On the other hand you will find that the people here are enormously
welcoming and open to all ideas which could improve their life,
be it simple jobs in the tourist sector or selling bread in a new
boutique.

What astounds me most is the complete lack of PROFIT for profit’s sake
thinking. When there’s enough to live on why bother working you ass off
to get the newest iphone ? Nor, sir, not me. Of course, a washing machine
would be neat, but imagine the electricity bill next month ! Comfort
produces surplus costs, and that’s not what’s required here.

Today I was speaking with a friend of the family I live with, which is
at the same time my “family” as well. The kids call me Papa, although
of course I’m not the real one, but after 2 years seeing them grow
and following their school efforts, it came naturally.

I told her about afrôtel SARL and the probability to stay for good once the
biz is paying off. She looked at me and said: “Well, why wait ? Even when you
don’t work and have no money, it’s enough for all of us, right ? We get by
as we always did, and god will surely reward our efforts. You belong to us,
that’s all”.

What can I say ? I only managed to reply that after all I’m still the white
guy from Europe to all except the family, and I’m not brought up the way to
profit from others to live, and surely not from an African family barely
getting by. The argument was understood, but didn’t change their opinion
at all.

I just wanted to tell you this little episode to show you why I love Africa.
There is so much heart and true emotion here undisturbed by materialistic or
profit thinking. And I like all of you to come and share my experiences I
have been blessed to live for quite a long time.

These little things make life lifeworthy, and it’s worth every dime spent or invested here. The people deserve to be supported, and not being exploited any longer!

Life in Cameroon (or on setting up a business)

Well, here I am in the middle of nowhere sitting on my bed and waiting for
the laptop battery to go flat. No power since I’ve arrived in our area of Loum,
and the state power company ENEO doesn’t seem to be able to find a replacement for the burnt transformer in time..

Here people accept the situation in stoic silence, there’s no use in getting
furious or complain about it, it won’t change anything. Sometimes the pieces
have to be ordered and delivered by the French, and until the things are getting
fixed weeks can pass easily.

Loum is a city built around banana and other fruit plantations, according to
different sources the place has about 100’000 habitants, but I ask myself where
they live. There’s nothing such as a city center here, just wooden and brick
one-story houses, paved and unpaved roads, and when you’re looking for name
plates on doors or even letter boxes or road signs you’re in bad luck.

Besides an elderly French ex-teacher named Michel I’m the only white guy in town, Michel himself seeming to be a ghost since I have never seen him anywhere here, or at the weekend pissups in one of the bars here where you can listen and dance to loud local Cameroonian Makossa or Bikoussi music until you fall of the bar stool.

So we’re busy loading batteries for a couple of hours of work and connection,
life being probably half as fast as in Europe or the US, you take it as it
comes, Internet being slow but still available. World problems seem not
existent, daily politics which occupy us all the time in the west not being present in an environment where survival is still the main occupation.

A simple Malaria can be life-threatening when money for drugs is lacking, and
Typhoid and Cholera are always a threat and can break out unexpected.

But as we are here to set up our small hotel afrôtel to welcome guests to
Cameroon for an adventure and sharpening of the mind for the problems Africa
has, I’m happy here. We progress, and hope is the driving factor of us all.

….and: Investors are still welcome. We’re only beginning, and you can find
me here in Loum, maybe just writing for LinkedIn :-)

BTW. I was just told that the sicknesses could keep people from coming and/or investing. Maybe I’m dramatising a bit – I drink tap water here, and of course the safety of our visitors and guests will be assured !