Covid-19 - Africa : you've said you telework ? - The Point

in the Face of the pandemic of the Covid-19, SMES in central Africa, who have almost no state aid, must apply the sanitary measures "barriers," while ensuring

Covid-19 - Africa : you've said you telework ? - The Point

in the Face of the pandemic of the Covid-19, SMES in central Africa, who have almost no state aid, must apply the sanitary measures "barriers," while ensuring their economic survival. To achieve this, they began to "fashion" to telework, hoping to benefit from the digitalization progressive started in Africa for several years.

How successful is this approach in a context of unpreparedness, boundary, energy, technology and legislation ? And how to take advantage of the strong potential in africa's transformation to a digital one, despite an Internet penetration rate that reaches barely 25 %.

also Read Containment and teleworking : a headache for businesses... and for the employees !

what is telework ?

If there is no consensus on the definition of telework, it is possible to consider that telecommuting is work performed outside the normal place of work of the employee, but connected to it by information technology and telecommunications. It is presented for several decades, including several reports of the international labour Organisation, as a lever of development of african SMES.

To help those who were not prepared, in the case of african SMES, the ILO, with contributions from Jon Messenger, one of its best experts. In a video released on 16 march 2020, it details " the 5 things to know for a telework effective." These are :

- support and managerial support at the executive level up to the agents of control ;

- the detention of the technology tools and training employees in their use ;

- the setting is clear, from the outset, the expected results and conditions of telework (connection times of the employee, the time where you can be contacted, contractualisation of telework) ; flexible schedules ; a framework of clearly defined borders between private life and professional life, as well as the right to disconnect to be able to rest and relax.

also Read the Cuts of social networks and the Internet : the Africa explodes all the records

The conditions of success of telework in the countries of sub-saharan Africa

In the framework of missions of consultation with a SME specialising in vocational training in a company present in the sub-region central Africa with a global staff of nearly 200 employees, we have had the opportunity to follow and to co-manage the deployment of a large system of teleworking, from the first hours of a pandemic of Covid-19. The shares have been held for the benefit of this company in cameroon and its subsidiaries in Gabon and Congo. Although the process is still in progress, some items date back as determinants for the success of telework in francophone sub-saharan Africa.

Any situation of organizational change is complex and it is necessary, to ensure success, take into account the specific socio-cultural. Africa is a society of communities where the working individual raises concerns. It is therefore necessary to accompany the teleworkers precisely because many of the SMES are initiated abruptly and under the constraint of the Covid-19. A search on the search frequency of the keyword " telework on the Google search engine, for example, shows that it has experienced an explosion in Cameroon, the first few days after the announcement by the government of the containment measures.

The concept being new to the SMES, it is necessary to identify the sources of concern related to the situation and the method of working at a distance. This management support is facilitated by the social context in which "court" and breaks the barriers to adoption of telework. One of the employees of SMES in Gabon says in this regard : "The situation was called for, one does not wish to work from home, but everyone does it... we are friendly. We do not have the choice [...]. Another limitation of telework in Africa is the lack of human warmth and fraternity in a society which prefers the community to the individuals. "

Read also Internet and mobile : these barriers that Africa must work around

Some avenues for improvement

For telework to be effective, the SME must have elements of connectivity are sufficient, as well as a good training and supervision of teleworkers.

The master of technology and digital communication

given their limited resources and an operating system, quasi-informal, african SMES, even in non-crisis, do not have enough digitized their internal procedures. Therefore there is a low mastery of the digital tools of remote work for teleworkers and their supervisors. In Gabon, for example, one of the employees concerned on the subject of teleworking asks : "How do I work at home with digital tools never practiced in a company ? "Interviewed by the national daily cameroon Cameroon Tribune, an employee of local SMES says :

" most of my colleagues do not have a laptop. After the first tests on other platforms, including Google Plateforms, it was abandoned. To work on this space, it requires a good Internet connection and good Ram, otherwise it drags and it is painful. "

Read also Covid-19 : confine Africa, mission impossible

The contract telecommute : not arbitrary

There is very often within the african SMES a climate of mistrust. In the case of Cameroon, studies on employees ' motivation have shown that to be effective, they need a strong dose of control. Therefore, how to control the work outside the walls of the company ? How to evaluate the performance of employees ?

Our exploratory work has shown that one of the solutions is of contracts to be entered into all the items related to telework. The employer must clearly define the hours of work at home, the moments of connection, moments of pause, the evaluation method and the boundaries between private life and professional life. He must also clarify in advance the indicators that will be used to evaluate the performance of the work at home. This contract will create a climate of trust between telecommuters and managers of SMES.

Read also Telecom - Africa - 3G : between reality and fiction

terms and conditions working at home (Internet, power cuts, promiscuity)

" ... OK, even if I had a computer and Internet at home, how to do with the daily power cuts ? ", says Sandrine, employee of a microfinance au Gabon.

in the light of The pay scales, it is logical to see that the homes of employees of african SMES are not equipped with appropriate digital devices, enabling them to start in emergency telework. In addition, unlike the buildings of the companies that have most of the power generators to cope with the recurrent power cuts and load shedding electrical, teleworkers do not have personal solutions in alternative energy.

This poses serious concerns for efficiency of teleworking in SMES in the Congo, Gabon and Cameroon. Finally, the extended families and cramped housing conditions lead to a promiscuity which destroys almost all the efforts to ensure an effective work at a distance. To remedy this, it is necessary that the company contributes to the development of a dedicated work space, adequate to the home of the teleworker.

Fill in the legal void, emergency legislation

The central African States French-speaking must take their responsibilities in regulating and encouraging telecommuting policies. The current gap does not create a climate of trust between telecommuters and their companies. By formalizing and legalizing the work at a distance, the african States will put their citizens and their businesses from a position of strength on a global market, thanks to technological tools, there are no more geographical borders.

also Read Julie Owono : "to Cut off the Internet, it is violating the rule of law"

* Martial Kadji Ngassam is a teacher-researcher at Essec of Douala.

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Date Of Update: 27 May 2020, 04:33