Wednesday 9 May 2012


I still haven’t managed to open a bank account here. I have filled in all the forms mid March but so far nothing has materialized back. Just one of the bureaucratic nightmares one has to negotiate when trying to live in a country other than one’s own.

The other is internet. Without a bank account I can’t pay online, so that means a trek across the city to the telecom vendors shop to pay each money which eats away a days travel allowance.  I can’t pay from a UK account as no one here accepts foreign cards at all, and Paypal doesn’t operate here – it even goes as far as freezing your account – real pain. There is Interswitch but for that you need a local account. Circles!

The other way I discovered on the telecomm company’s website is that you can pay by directing charging from your phone, oh great that should be easy. Everyone here has 2 or more phones because the networks go down regularly, so I have a MTN and and Starcomm phone, and the starcomm  one is my dongle. But can I find a local vendor of Starcomm recharge cards! MTN yes, every street vendor seems to have those, every hole in the wall vendor seems to have those, , everywhere, but starcomm, no, ziltch, nada! Sods law. Having invested 12,000N, that’s 1/3 of my monthly allowance in the dongle there’s no going back.

For the last week in April I decided to forego recharging it and wait until I got paid at month end so as to get income and expenditure better synched and give myself a better chance of find a starcomm recharge card vendor closer than a 300N taxi ride away.

Postscript: I wrote this blog entry at the end of April. Then I just thought I’d ask in the office about where to buy recharge cards in the neighbourhood, to be told that my NGO is going to pay for my internet! This is what happened in India and it saved me a fortune and meant that I was quite happy to do work at home and outside of normal office hours. Now I am a happy, connected person again:)

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