BNR: business in Tanzania

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On March 9, 2023, I was again a co-host and ‘world conqueror’ on BNR radio. This time it was about doing business in Tanzania. Listen back to the broadcast here.

‘Pole pole pole’ is a common Tanzanian expression: it means: ‘calm, calm’, or ‘slow slow’. In Tanzania, everything moves a little bit slower than in many other African countries. People do not understand that another person gets worked up when things are different or slower. Another expression is that there is no bad form of patience: patience is ALWAYS good.

In Africa, you see similarities among the 48 countries below the Sahara, and of course you also see many differences on this huge continent. Two similarities are that in almost all countries there is more hierarchy than in the Netherlands, and they are almost all more relationship-oriented societies: good relationships and networking are very important and take time and energy to build.

Looking at the differences, we see, for example, that Nigeria, Congo and Kenya, on average, have a slightly tougher mentality: more assertive, result-oriented, a little more thick-headed. Ghana or Tanzania, on the other hand, are somewhat more humble, more people-oriented, and they are often important mediators in the continent’s conflict situations.

Another big difference can be pointed out between East and West, where you can generally say that West Africa tends to be a bit more frivolous, more optimistic, more party and fun and “indulgent,” while East Africa is a bit more serious. This is noticeable in negotiations: in West Africa, your goal is to melt the other person’s heart with all sorts of flattering jokes and lots of humor, in order to get a better deal. In East Africa, too, negotiation is a dance and a form of relationship building; yet it is more serious and a bit more direct.

This and more, as well as the beautiful story of Johnny Cashew by Hayo de Feijter, can be heard back here: