Monthly Archives: May 2016

Finding Your Home In Dar Es Salaam

  1. Word Of Mouth And Referral Works Best.

Ownership of properties in Tanzania is restricted to holders of the Tanzanian passport or to companies locally registered in the country. All foreigners are expected to rent their accommodation. The private rental market relies mainly on word of mouth and referrals. Properties are advertised online or in the newspapers. However, there is no dedicated portal such as Rightmove, Zoopla as is the case in the UK. There are a number of estate agents operating but there are no standard rules such as the Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST) in the UK.  In the UK, an estate agent needs to ensure that its employees have undergone a number of certified training. This is not the case in Dar.

  1. Location: accessibility to office – to be considered

Most landlords in Dar Es Salaam have a portfolio of properties scattered in various locations: Oyster Bay, City Centre, Masaki, Mikocheni etc. Choosing your location is mainly about accessibility to your office. As in many big cities, traffic jam is problematic and it can take 1-2 hours to drive a distance that usually takes 15-30 minutes when the roads are clear. This is even more challenging during the rainy season as the shortcuts that you could take to reach your destination can no longer be used.

Most expats love to stay in Masaki or in Oyster Bay because of the various restaurants, supermarkets and other facilities available in this area. However, rents are quite high as most people once they move in in a place, they tend to stay until it is time to go home. So, supply outstrips demand. Upanga which is the city centre is great if you want to avoid traffic jams. However, in terms of social life, it is quite limited.

Most roads in Dar Es Salaam are tarred. However, access to certain new developments is mainly through dirt roads. In the rainy season, access to those developments may be tricky if you do not have an SUV or a 4 by 4. It is recommended that you check as to how the landscape can change with local weather conditions. Even in areas where roads are tarred and because the drainage was not properly done, the level of water on the roads can rise rapidly making it difficult to drive.

  1. Rent Paid In Advance Before Move In.

Renting a property requires you to pay 6 months – 12 months rent in advance. Tenant referencing and credit check is not mandatory. This is a deal breaker for most landlords. Some major corporations can negotiate more favourable terms especially if they are looking for a number of properties for their overseas staff. Cash transactions are quite common and bank transfers are the next best means of payment favoured by landlords.

  1. Utilities Bill Can Skyrocket.

Electricity and water is rarely included in the rent. Electricity (LUKU) is pre paid and you can buy your monthly credit in advance at any gas station or in some shops. As power generation has still not yet caught up with the local demand, generators are regularly used to provide electricity for the whole building. The splitting of the bill amongst the residents is not scientific as there is no way of measuring how much power each household has consumed. It is recommended to discuss this with the landlord before you make up your mind.

  1. Maintenance and Other Facilities

Most apartments are in a gated community with security guards at the entrance. This is mainly to discourage local people to go in to sell their products or ask for work without being invited. Most landlords have a team who can help with small maintenance issues such as tap leaks, broken door handles etc. They can also provide other services such as replacement of LPG containers used for cooking, maid cleaning etc for an extra fee.

  1. Landlord Obligations

Tanzanian legislation is less strict than that of the UK. Requirements such as gas certificates, PAT Testing, building insurance are not compulsory. Fire exits and fire drills are also not well implemented in most buildings. New apartments have the advantage that all lifts are running properly. Over time, when the lifts are broken, they are not repaired immediately. It is suggested that you choose apartments that are easily accessible by stairs in case the lifts get broken.

The Concept Of Time

Time is considered to be a limited resource due to the speed at which information is disseminated online. There is now an easy access to emails due to smart phones.

There is a general belief that “there is not enough time” and any delays we encounter becomes a source of anxiety, frustration. According to Deepak Chopra, time is the movement of thoughts. So, allowing technology to dictate our use of time and our pace of life can lead to time management being a continuous source of stress.

In the “Western” world, to meet deadlines, to be punctual and good timekeeping skills are highly valued. More attention is paid to the tasks at hand, to stick to the agreed agenda and not much is done to build the right kind of rapport with the counterparty. It is assumed that if we do what is expected of us, then we have demonstrated our commitment and professionalism.

In other cultures such as Japan, punctuality is interpreted as a gesture of respect and courtesy. On the other hand, in India and in many other parts of the world, it is expected that meetings will start behind schedule as being late is considered as “normal”. Building rapport and creating trust amongst the parties are more important than punctuality. They will spend the time needed to ensure that the meeting ends at the “right” place. Relationships are the determining factor in growing your business and time keeping may be considered a trivial matter.

However, there may be different rules applied depending on whether you are local or you are a foreign visitor. In Madagascar, for example, the locals will not be expected to arrive in time if they are meeting their countrymen. On the other hand, if the counterparty is a foreign visitor, punctuality becomes a must as a sign of respect.

Time is also measured differently. In East Africa, you have the KiSwahili time. In our part of the world, time is usually counted as from midnight to midday. In East Africa, time is from dawn to dusk. Seven o’clock in the morning, in the Western World, is actually one o’clock in the morning in KiSwahili. It is assumed that the sun rises at around 6 am and sets around at 6 pm. If you want to know more about KiSwahili time, please click here. In most East African countries, people are used to the Western approach of measuring time when it comes to business meetings. However, when it comes to dealing with the local tradesmen, it is useful to ensure that you all have the same concept of timekeeping.

Time is in continuous flow with no limits and boundaries. The social norms of each culture have given it different interpretations. When meetings run late, trains are delayed or deadlines are not met, it is probably useful to take a deep breath and step back. What matters most to the person you are meeting and what compromise are you willing to make?

Create Your Tribe

We all live in circles of friends, family, co workers and acquaintances. No matter how shy we are, we have to interact with people on a daily basis. Your network of relationships is part of your assets. Assets are things that we have and that contribute positively to our lives, be it professional or personal.

Relationships are complex, most of the time. There is no standard recipe for successful and healthy relationships. We learn by trial and error and by being self aware. Like any asset you have, it needs energy, time and personal commitment. These relationships are even more crucial when you work in an environment unfamiliar to you such as being an expat or self employed or running your own business. It is not enough to have a number of business cards lying on your desk or having a number of “friends” on Facebook. Personal engagement with your network is important on a regular basis. Engagement is about getting to know each one of them, making a connection. This takes time and a genuine effort to invest in your network.

Creating a strong rapport takes place over time and it requires a commitment to add value to the lives of the people you engage with. Walking the extra mile to show appreciation is the personal touch that you can add. Whatever value you can add is about your personality, your talents and your life experiences. Your personal brand will determine how strong your interpersonal skillset is and how confident you are in being able to bring something that your network will value.

Adding value is not a one off thing that you can do at the start of any relationship. It is a continuous process of exchange between two persons. The universal law of giving and receiving ensures that there is a balance and allows for the relationship to be of value to both parties. It is quite unhealthy to be always at the receiving or giving end. It creates frustration, resentment when things go wrong.

Achieving that balance allows you to leverage your network. SME’s are usually run by small teams of 1-3 people at most. Taping into your relationships allows you to have access to a broader range of skills and experiences. You may even create a mastermind group of your peers whose skills set and experience is complementary to yours. For expats, having a wider network allows you to broaden your scope, possibly add value to your new job and be the support that you need during the early days of your new life and new career phase.

Your network is definitely your net worth when you regularly engage, add value and leverage your relationships.

Cultural Etiquette – An Important Ingredient In A Multi-Cultural Environment.

In today’s world, there are more and more people looking to relocate for a better future. London is a good example of a diverse cultural workforce. You have people with Jamaican, Nigerian, Spanish, French cultural background working and living in London. Their kids will be of a hybrid cultural background. Over time, more and more of the younger generations will all be of mixed cultures. London is not the only place where there is a melting pot of cultures. Some countries such as Singapore, Mauritius were populated by migrants from various parts of the world. People born and raised there, had to create a new cultural identity over time as they found themselves different from their culture of origin.

Social cohesion is sometimes not only a result of economic prosperity or the fact that most of us are all law abiding citizens. Cultural etiquette is also important when we live in a multi-cultural environment. There are boundaries to be respected and an awareness that our behaviour can offend without us knowing why. Learning about other cultures can sometimes be difficult because of the tendency to stereotype. Sometimes, people are not so willing to share their cultural heritage because of a lack of trust. So, here are a few tips to bear in mind

1. Time and Space
People’s relationship with time varies. Punctuality is not always upheld as some people are more focused on leaving the meeting on a good note. As long as they feel that they have not yet built the rapport they need, they may prolong the meeting. In their views, relationships are what matters most.

Personal space is not always easy to respect especially at peak times in public transport. When it comes to making friends or reaching out to people, it is useful to know that some people do not like any friendly pats on the back or being physically close. Hugging is also very uncomfortable unless you have known each other for a while. People may see that more as a violation of their personal space. Though they may not say anything, it is starting the relationship on the wrong note.

2. Clothing
We all have different tastes in clothes, some more obvious than others. Respecting people’s choices is important though their choices may seem alien to us. I was agreeably surprised when I went to New York for the first time. It was amazing to see such a freedom of clothing style. This would not be case in some other parts of the world where people tend to conform to certain implicit norms. No matter how people look different from each other, they all seek the same thing: happiness. They are all trying their very best to achieve their goals. This is what is most important to bear in mind when it comes to meeting people with a dress code different from ours.

3. Language
We all speak English and yet we don’t always understand each other. Speaking English with an accent or using slang or professional jargon can make communication more difficult. Using simple language and speaking slower build better rapport with others. Getting used to different accents are also useful as what matters is the strength of the rapport that you build with the other person. That same person may become a great friend over time or it may be one of your best clients ever.

20 years ago, it was a novelty to find so many different languages spoken in one location. Today, we have a number of cities, across the world, where you can listen to French, German, Japanese, and many other languages being spoken all in the same place. Learning to be “politically correct” is essential if you want to raise your profile in a culturally diverse environment.