(E-)business the Namibian way

Last weekend a tooth which had been treated in January in Munich started to hurt. It became immediately clear that the only real choice would be Windhoek as the best treatment you can get in the 4-O-Region is a Cuban Doctor. Not a good idea having the former Soviet Union dental care standard in mind. On short notice I got an appointment with an widely recommended dentist in Windhoek tomorrow early morning. Next issue: transport. As I wasn’t able to ‘book’ a reliable government ride (=guaranteed on time at the destination) South and a ten hour ride in my Hilux supported by Ibuprofen had been out of the question (let alone the suicidal mini buses before a public holiday) the plane was the only choice left.
The aviation business, probably one of the most competitive in the world with airlines eager in optimizing their processes to bring down operation costs and satisfy customer needs. How does that fit in a country where the government still owns (the case of Air Namibia, Telecom, NamWater, Nampower) or has a substantial stake (MTC) of most companies in transportation, communication and energy (…and probably owns half of the cars and toilet paper rolls as well)?
Air Namibia: online booking would had only been an option three days before departure. So I sent an email with the inquire followed by an phone call a few minutes latter to the service center in Windhoek. Took the agent only a minute to transfer the email content into the booking system. Payment? The headache started. I asked the agent if I could use my credit card. Not on the phone, I would receive an email which would allow me to do so. I thought about a link to the booking system, fancy. Wishful thinking.

Please advise from which bank you will make payment. If using another bank either than standard bank, payment will only show after 3 working days. It will be advisable to either do a Cash deposit into Standard bank or, coming into our offices and making a payment

I am not with Standard bank and a Cash deposit before a public holiday (and after the 10% ‘Government kick-back-program’ on salaries) starts with a gigantic queue outside the bank. Therefore I ended up driving 150km to the airport in Ondangwa to a) wait for 45 minutes as the agents were swamped by the dispatch of the lunchtime flight and b) hear after it that the online payment system was not working. Hence, no credit card transaction = no ticket. Another 30 minutes and 30km later I had been back in Ongwediva to raid the ATM, take a shower and put down the car at the Fides Bank flat-sharing community (no secure parking at the airport). After it back to the airport with a cab to make the cash payment before 5.p.m otherwise I would have lost the reservation. Needless to say that the fully booked plane had an delay of an hour. Luckily I was picked up by Interteam‘s country coordinator and didn’t had to face another transport challenge (where to get a cab at 9.p.m. at the Eros Airport?). To sum up: I basically spent half a day to get my travel arrangement done. Inefficiency at it’s best and the prove that the country’s economy still has a long way to go.

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