New Target Market? Office in Cameroon

15. Mai 2020

Yaoundé, April 2020. Wilhelm Kapale updates his e-mails. As so often in the last days. The loading symbol on his display rotates. Feels like eternity. He checks the reception of his mobile phone: four bars. The mailbox is still loading. Shortly after, the waiting is over: no new e-mails in the inbox. Disillusion.

Waiting, that’s Wilhelm’s unofficial motto these days. The annual holiday in Cameroon is coming to an end. The suitcases are already packed. Outgoing flights have been canceled, Cameroon’s borders have been closed. Until further notice.

Normality in the everyday Corona life. But what’s normal these days? How long is this supposed to go on? When can Wilhelm return to Hamburg? For sure nobody can say. Only the uncertainty is certain.

A piece of home in the distance

Help is not in sight. Neither from the airline, nor from the German consulate or embassy. There was just an automatically generated response from the consulate:

„Dear Sir or Madam, due to the current situation in Cameroon, the consulate’s visa office is completely closed until further notice. Only cases of consular emergency aid will be processed…“

Consular Emergency Aid? Hardly anything creates more distance in the current situation than such formal, governmental language. And yet it feels very much German and the home in Hamburg. Only 5,527 kilometres away.

Wilhelm has to wait. Until Cameroon opens its borders again. That will take some time. The vacation is already over. His stay will be inevitably extended. Wilhelm phones with the family in Germany. With his boss, Axel Stelzer, the head of technical management in Hamburg. Wilhelm bridges the first week by lengthening his vacation. But this is only a temporary game.

Several times a day Wilhelm browses the news, updates his e-mails. But still no information from the German consulate. How can things go on? He will not come home. But does he have to?

wpd windmanager office in Yaoundé

Even the colleagues in Hamburg are currently not in the office. wpd windmanger also works in the home office at the other locations, for example in Bremen, Oulu or Dubrovnik. Can’t Wilhelm set up a home office in Yaoundé as well? Extraordinary situations require extraordinary measures. Wilhelm discusses the idea with Axel Stelzer. His boss does not find the idea so extraordinary. Prerequisite: a PC and a stable internet connection.

No more waiting

Wilhelm talks to local friends and gets a computer and monitor. He sets up a workplace in Yaoundé with his sister in the newly constructed building. There is no electricity in his new office yet. Wilhelm pulls the cables in without further ado. A stable Internet connection is needed. Unfortunately this is not a matter of course on site.

Wilhelm exchanges ideas with colleagues from the wpd IT in Bremen. For them, the home office idea initially causes frowning and then requires some readjustments in the area of IT security and spam filters. Access requests from Cameroon are not necessarily considered trustworthy by IT security experts. Wilhelm gets access via the remote support.

Back in Business

It’s April 27th. Wilhelm is the unofficial site manager of the wpd windmanager branch office in Yaoundé. Who would have thought it? The line is up. E-mails, Rotorsoft and Co. are running stable. Mostly. It’s rainy season right now. Which can cause power outages during heavy storms. Wilhelm is now preparing the technical reports of his North German wind farms in Cameroon. Via Microsoft Teams he exchanges information with his colleagues. Via video. Face to face.

Almost like in the Hamburg office.

Head of Marketing & PR
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