(This is the second part of a column on business travel to Africa. To read the first part, click here)
It is hard to generalise the security situation in Sub-Saharan Africa. Tim Willis of Travel Security Services (TSS) points to the criminality concerns in Nairobi, Freetown and Johannesburg, separatist activity in Nigeria and various political situations in others. For many, going to the continent for the first time, fear of the unknown will be the pressing factor. The key is to keep abreast of current situation in countries where events such as elections can have a significant bearing on the security situation.
For anyone travelling to a high-risk city, Willis recommends that a trusted local guide or security provider be used to support their visit, and to ensure they have arranged to be met on arrival by their local hotel or trusted local contact at the airport.
There is, of course, the danger of taking perceived security threats too seriously. I remember when my family moved to Port Moresby, PNG in the mid 1990s. We had lived in “edgy” places before (Freetown in Sierra Leone, Nairobi), but the security manager’s detailed description of the potential dangers that could befall us terrified my mother and I to the extent that we cowered in our hotel room for days before summoning up the courage to go out. Of course with sensible precautions we had no problems whatsoever.
The road less travelled
Early last year, when John Lovejoy, 31, bisected Africa from north to South by car, he found the continent’s roads to be much less welcoming than the Africans he met along the way.
The intrepid American was on a test-run for a charity rally he was organising to coincide with the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. A low point on the 11,876-mile ride from Barcelona to Cape Town came on the 217-mile Pointe Noire-Brazzaville dirt road in Congo; it took Lovejoy and his younger brother a week to cover a distance that should have taken a day.