Creppy Kangni represents Random Dynamic Resources Ltd in the West Coast. Based in Togo Republic specifically in Lome, he covers all the French speaking countries in West Africa for Random. These are countries like Benin Republic, Niger, Mali, Ivory Coast and Guinea. Creppy worked in a USA district and lived in the United States for 12years before coming back to Africa.
WHAT ARE THE EXPERIENCES LIKE WORKING IN THOSE FRENCH SPEAKING WEST AFRICAN COUNTRIES?
There’s really a huge difference between the French speaking and English speaking countries in Africa. It all comes down to the culture. The Francophone countries are more lay back people compared to the English speaking countries. About experiences in the field, with the French speaking countries, the challenges are more on infrastructure – bad road getting to point A or B and be there on time. You have to push the field workers around to get the job done and by the time the field is done , you have to make sure that the data is sent back to Lagos for analysis. So those are the field challenges we have in the French speaking countries. Let’s say I go all the way to Mali for a field work some times travelling by road is very hard because those are long distances. From Togo to Mali is a long distance, so by the time you get there and get the job done and come back to travel back all the way from Lome to Nigeria to submit the data are part of the challenges we face time to time.
YOU MENTIONED CULTURE AS PART OF THE CHALLENGES. HOW MUCH DO THE PEOPLE COOPERATE WITH THE INTERVIEWERS DURING FIELDWORK?
As a matter of fact the French speaking people are more talkative. When it comes to field work, they don’t have problem responding to interviewers’ question. The people also are well receptive and would give what is needed from them easily.
DOES RELIGION PLAY ANY ROLE?
Religion has a lot to do. We have to consider religion because in those countries, we have Muslims as well as Christians. For example , when we have field work in the northern part of Togo and Benin where Muslims dominate , there’s tendency to recruit Muslim field workers so it will be easier for us to get data.
ANY CULTURAL SIMILARITY AMONG THE FRENCH SPEAKING COUNTRIES?
If you go into history, southern Nigeria gets on well basically with Togolese culture and Benin republic culture. So you will find Yoruba people in Benin just as you will find them in Lagos, Nigeria. You will find the Yorubas in Togo as you find them in Benin and Nigeria. Basically having the population mix as we talk nowadays, there used to be a time the northern part people, I mean the residual northern part would not get married to the southern part but today the whole thing has changed. So the Yoruba will get married to the Ewe people that are the southern part of Togo. The similarity comes where the whole people will have the same type of food and the same type of clothing. On the field, it is the same challenge you people face here that we also do face up there.
HAVE YOU MENTIONED THE CHALLENGES YOU FACE WORKING IN THE FIELD?
Wages is a big problem because they don’t look at the job being small today. They have tendency to look at the questionnaire and then approach the questionnaire based on the wages or approach the wages based on the questionnaire. So you have to bring the fieldworkers in and explain to them that the fund provided by the company is not sufficient, if that’s the case. You just try to convince them so wages is one of the challenges. Also we have communication issue, communication is very important and Togo has only two networks. It is hard sometimes to get through so communication is one of the challenges and it is really important. Internet connection that also comes under communication is poor. We need to be in touch especially with the office in Togo 24/7 but when you don’t have connection it gets a little bit hard doing the job. Those are the things and bribery is too much in Togo. Before you get a brief most of the times even when we have proper document to show that we are doing the job we are supposed to be where we are , they can kill us at any time. Most of the times they come and want some tips, but this is not provided for that specific job but for you to get the job done you have to be smart enough. Those are the challenges on the field and you will find the same thing in Benin, in Mali and other countries.
HOW DO YOU THINK WE CAN ADDRESS SUCH CHALLENGES?
I believe we need the government intervention. I remember years ago on the road if you were a driver coming all the way from Togo to let’s just say Benin, you would have to bribe so many police officers on the road before you make it to your destination but today with government intervention that has stopped. So the same thing needs to be done to make it easy for businesses to promote the economy of the countries concerned otherwise a lot of big businesses will find themselves moving out of the country. A couple of years ago, it was very hard to get business paper to register your company and get to start business in Togo, precisely, I will say about three to four years ago . But the government has come in to ease the burden on people. Now we have a central agency that handles the whole thing for you which makes the process easy. So on the bribery side, I think the government will be the one to step in, that’s what I believe.
ONE OF THE CHALLENGES IS LOW LEVEL OF AWARENESS.PEOPLE DON’T REALLY KNOW WHAT MARKET RESEARCH IS ALL ABOUT?
In the French speaking countries, I will say basically it’s the same thing but we have a way to go around it to let people know what market research is all about. We don’t do advertising to let them know but when we have a project that will make us go to field our duty is to let the people know . All the research being done is for their own good, it is for the end users’ good.
HOW DO YOU LET THEM KNOW?
By approaching them one on one basis or asking my recruiters and my supervisors to explain to their relatives and other people what market research is all about so when it comes to when we need to recruit on the field it becomes easier for us. l will say that for the whole of west Africa the mentality now is yet to grasp with what market research is. As we speak, there are supermarkets which are being opened in Ivory Coast so this will bring the population to know how to spend buying from the supermarket they will oblige a little bit and see us going to Africa regular market they will go to supermarket and buy by doing so they have awareness that a research may be done for those products they are buying so when we go to them it will be easier for us to do our job. And the same thing is happening also in Togos. Five years ago we did not have supermarket opening in Togo but as of now in the city I can say we have a few of them which is very good I don’t know if it will be possible to advertise market research that will be a great thing.
DON’T YOU THINK NOT HAVING A STRONG ASSOCIATION BODY IN THOSE MARKETS IS ANOTHER FACTOR THAT CONTRIBUTES TO LOW LEVEL AWARENESS OF MARKET RESEARCH IN THOSE COUNTRIES YOU COVER ?
We probably need to get that going in Togo and mostly in those French speaking countries to be able to raise the awareness of market research in those countries. I believe this is what probably needs to be done also even though NiMRA is having problem in Nigeria, there’s need to regulate the industry.
ON A PERSONAL NOTE HOW DO YOU THINK BUSINESS OF MARKET RESEARCH CAN IMPROVE?
Market research in Africa is booming. at present It was something that years ago used to be really hard to do. It used to be difficult to have jobs done in Africa but for now business is booming and having all those young kids coming out of college with new knowledge is helping out. On my personal note I will say market research companies have to be regulated everywhere possible.s
THANK YOU VERY MUCH IS THERE ANYTHING YOU WANT TO ADD?
You are welcome I appreciate your time and giving me the opportunity to give you those small insights of French Africa speaking country in the west coast.
I WILL TALK ABOUT THE METHODOLOGY OF DOING RESEARCH IN OTHER COUNTRIES?
In the Francophone countries, we also use pen and paper even as we also have the CAPI method. I mean having the new technology come in and its improving. We use technology devices like telephone, android in West Africa.
CAN YOU COMPARE IT WITH LEVEL OF TECHNOLOGY USED IN NIGERIA DOING RESEARCH?
Doing research in those countries compared to Nigeria, we are still a little bit way back. Nigeria is well advanced than us and then collecting data using those devices is a little bit hard as I still remember at the beginning we had problem with network connection and it could take time before some data collected on the field could be sent to central location and sometimes data would be lost but in Nigeria that’s not the case. You have network connection s 24/7 no failure so that’s what I could say about that.