This blog is inspired by my own annoyance, a couple of emails sitting in my inbox, on LinkedIn and a few tweets
It typically starts like this:
I get an email with this type of content: “We are research firm/consultant given a contract to implement a project in Africa by a development finance institution etc.
We are told you are one of the foremost experts in the field and have vast knowledge and network, our research would also greatly benefit from your insights on the ICT sector.
We would like to ask you to spend 1/2/3 hours answering our questions on the top maybe taking the time out to introduce us to folks in your network we can do the same thing to them”
When I ask for their budget for my time? I am told we don’t have a budget, we just hope you believe enough in this work to support women/tech/startups/innovation in Africa and we will make sure we put your name at the back as contributor and paying for my lunch is not payment .
Early on my career I was naïve enough to be flattered by people reaching out to me and would spend the time downloading my knowledge and expertise
These days I have criteria for responding and it ranges from not responding at all to evaluating:
- Will the research be freely made available and useful to my community and is not a copy of the same research done by 100 other institution before then I will give up to 20 minutes of my time.
- Is this a smaller institution that does not have the capacity to pay for my time but doing valuable work then I give 30 minutes of my time?
- Otherwise I am sending my consulting rates.
For context I am not the only one complaining, this has become a common complaint across industrise across Africa as evidenced by the tweets below:
Rebecca is Tech entrepreneur. Founder CEO AppsTech ,The Board Chair of Afrilabs (AfriLabs is the foremost network organization for the growing number of Africa based technology and innovation hubs) and Vice-Chair of the World Health Organization Foundation
She tweeted this
Foreign consultants that contact us because they’ve gotten a contract with XYZ to study the [Enter African country here] ecosystem and want us to share our learnings FREE so they can get paid. Go …. yourself.— Rebecca Enonchong (@africatechie) June 28, 2021
Kingsley Abrokwah is an emerging powerhouse in the African fintech sector, he is the founder of Kudigo which bridges the gap last mile access to retails , 12,000 users and 8.9 million USD payments pass through the platform annually
He tweeted this
So u have gone to take ur grant funding to do research and u come to me to give u free data; data I have spent money and time in collecting; I mean how? @ethelcofie I beg is this what they do?— sirkingsley (@Paapakwame) August 20, 2021
And as a last point…
If DFI’s, Consultants and other institutions care about doing meaningful work to grow Africa , I think the least they can do is ask the folks implementing their projects to make budgets ready to pay for the experts and people who have amassed knowledge and networks that they leverage on .
Pass it on ..