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Tuesday, 28 January 2020

I’ve had a slight Symmetry OCD since I was a kid. Obsessions with this OCD include the persistent, mostly irrational need for things to ‘feel’ symmetrical, or be perfectly aligned, or to get to some version of “just right”. Accompanying compulsions include repeated rearranging, evening up, constant realigning and even repeated tapping. It’s not bad in my instance, I just have slight urges every now and then.

What a relief when I later on found out that I am not alone in having obsessions and compulsions like this. I know normal people that have an irrational need to constantly clean everything or, say, make the volume on the TV an even number or a multiple of 3. I’m sure you know someone with an irrational tick as well. Those are all mild OCD’s.

Perfectionism as an entrepreneur can just as easily evolve into an irrational tick that can have a toll on your efficiency. As an entrepreneur, the last thing you’d want is to have a need to be perfect in a sport where the dynamics are ever-changing. Still, when most entrepreneurs have a picture locked within their heads, it’s hard to get it out. What they however overlook is the negative effects that are associated with being the perfectionist they cling on to being.

Perfectionism is refusal to accept any standard short of your perceived idea of what is perfect.

All successful entrepreneurs share similar values. A good entrepreneur has the ability to accept correction, be a team player, be productive, dream, effect proper time management, and have good networking skills, to mention a few. All these values do not see eye to eye with perfectionism.

Perfectionism is the enemy of correction.

A business entrepreneur must always have a plan. A perfectionist, when presenting his/her business plan, believes that it is the finished work he has done and hence is not likely to consider any input that is going to be given to him/her. A better entrepreneur would see other inputs after sharing said business plan as helpful.

On the other hand, a perfectionist may see the input given as criticism of his/her work. Most perfectionists assume that their standards are the highest standards and hence are not ready to listen to what others have to say. They would always come up with reasons why what you are recommending would not work and for that reason, they stick to what they originally planned on doing, forgoing the opportunities that outside recommendations can bring to the table.

Perfectionism is the enemy of development.

Being obsessed with being right is the main characteristic of a perfectionist. Their standard is the yard stick by which any and every input is measured. In my opinion, perfectionism prevents you the entrepreneur from coming up with a perfect product, by hindering the implementation of helpful input.

The truth is, perfectionists do not usually consider or apply corrections put forth to them. By missing out on chances to better their products and services, a perfectionist gives room for competitors to surpass them. One major setback from being a perfectionist is the fact that it gets difficult for you to learn from others. This therefore reduces the rate at which you develop. Somehow, most people who call themselves perfectionist believe that they have had more experience than many and hence do not believe that anyone has anything new to teach them, forgetting that the world is evolving, and new things come up every day.

Perfectionism is the enemy of team building.

For a business to be said to have grown, the size of workers is one of the measuring tools. This is normally expanded through team building. Perfectionists however have great difficulty in doing this. They do not do it consciously, but they always end up doing it. A perfectionist will rather work alone and get things done according to their standards than to work with others that he/she feels will stifle progress.

When working as a good team, everyone’s input is considered, and everything is built from scratch thinking outside the box. When working with a perfectionist, said person comes to the team with what they expect to be done, and how they expect it to be done. They may come asking for what everyone thinks is the right way to go about things but at the end of the day, what they had in mind is what is going to be used by them.

This usually tends to discourage team members from contributing towards work that have been presented before them as they feel they will just be wasting their time. Even when they know easier and shorter ways to get things done, they will rather remain silent.

Perfectionism is the enemy of productivity.

Perfectionism will not enable an entrepreneur to come out with a product until he/she feels the product is perfect, based on their perceived standards. While the perfectionist is in the lab working on their product to get the perfect product, competitors will release his product and allow feedback to make the product better to meet the needs of his/her target market.

Following the latter, it enables the market to decide and partake in the development of a generally accepted product while the perfectionist keeps working on making it perfect by his/her standards. The fact that perfectionists have difficulty in accepting correction also prevents them from seeking feedback from the public as they would see this as a criticism of their product or service.

Perfectionism is the killer of dreams.

When an individual has the dream to start a particular business, it looks easy at the beginning. It could be easier when you seek advice from people who have already been in that industry or mentors. Most individual use the advice they receive from such people to make their business a better one and are ready for further inputs to help them grow.

However, that is not the case for people who practise perfectionism. Due to the fact that they believe and are used to being “right” at all times, they see inputs given them by people in the industry as criticism which do not go too well with them. Most often when perfectionists are faced with challenges, they tend to get frustrated and are most likely to give up on their dreams. If things do not go exactly as they wish it to go, they are likely to drop the dream and console themselves that it was not meant to be.

Perfectionism is the enemy of effective time management.

When you are not focused on getting things done perfectly but having things done properly, you are able to make time for many things. However, when you are focusing on getting something done using perfectionism, you spend all your time on that and in the end, you have many things left undone.

Based on this we can boldly say that perfectionism is the enemy of effective time management. A perfectionist will not move away from what they are working on until they feel they have attained the standard they deem to be perfect. This prevents them from addressing other aspects of their lives and this goes a long way to making perfectionist become workaholics.

Perfectionism is the enemy of good networking.

Perfectionism is said to be the enemy of networking. Networking happens under less tense scenarios and usually outside the work environment. Perfectionists as I mentioned earlier turn to be workaholics. They turn to give up their social lives in an attempt to build the successful business that they envision. This makes whatever you are working on become very stressful and because the entrepreneur does not have time to destress, being a perfectionist has been associated with bringing about illnesses such as anxiety disorder, fatigue and insomnia. Research has also discovered that due to the lifestyle of perfectionists, most of the time they are seen to die earlier as compared to how long they would have lived should they have lived without all the pressures of being a perfectionist.

How does one handle perfectionism?

We should choose attainable targets and not ones that are solely abstract. I am a Ghanaian, so it would be totally unattainable to, say, at this stage and age, aim to be the President of America. That is not to say one shouldn’t dream big. But stories of only one person seeing the way and being the pioneer is the exception to the rule. Ask for help or for what you need. There is nothing different under the sun. As you give up trying to reinvent the wheel, embrace the team mentality as you progress step by step as a unit. It’s less stressful that way anyways.

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How do you think you can apply what you’ve just read in your current situation? Do you know anyone that’s a perfectionist? How do you think once can better manage the urge to try to be perfect at everything?

Hit me up on social media and let’s keep the conversation going! I read all the feedback you send me on LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

Also, feel free to send me your articles on relevant topics for publication on the Macroeconomic Bulletin. I’d give you full credit, an intro, and an outro. Kindly make it about 1000 words.

Have a lovely week!

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Maxwell Ampong is the CEO of Maxwell Investments Group, a Trading and Business Solutions provider. He is the Business Advisor for the General Agricultural Workers’ Union of TUC (Gh). He writes about trending and relevant economic topics, and general perspective pieces.

LinkedIn:/in/thisisthemax   Instagram:@thisisthemax   Twitter:@thisisthemax   Facebook:@thisisthemax   Website: www.maxwellinvestmentsgroup.com   Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.   Mobile: 0249993319

Published in Macroeconomic Bulletin

João Lourenço was supposed to be a relatively safe pair of hands.

A liberation party stalwart, a veteran of Angola's long wars, an ambitious but unremarkable Soviet-trained artillery general hand-picked by other generals, a man who would, surely, do nothing to rock the boat.

That, at least, appeared to be the plan.

When he took over as president of the oil-rich country in 2017 - and soon after as leader of the governing MPLA - the expectation was that he would shake things up a little, introduce cautious economic reforms, root out some corruption in a way that would not scare too many wealthy generals, seek to revive the reputation of his ageing party, and leave his predecessor, Jose Eduardo dos Santos and his family, to enjoy their various business empires in peace.

First families fall out

Instead, in office, President Lourenço, 65, has turned out to be - or at least aspires to be - more of a "Gorbachev" figure, throwing caution and precedent to the wind, dragging Angola out of its sluggish, authoritarian past and leading it towards a future that suddenly looks both exciting and precarious.

"He's a bulldozer. Nothing he does is discreet. He goes for the jugular," political analyst and Angola expert Paula Roque told the BBC.

The first, and most prominent, target of that bulldozing instinct has been the Dos Santos family.

Much to the surprise and delight of many Angolans, who had grown tired of watching the former president's family grow staggeringly wealthy, at least in part from government contracts, and who had long feared the prospect of a Dos Santos political dynasty, President Lourenço - or JLo, as he's known to all Angolans - moved fast and aggressively against the former "first family".

Isabel dos Santos was brusquely removed from her job running the giant state oil company, Sonangol. Her half-brother received similar treatment at the state's sovereign wealth fund, and soon afterwards found himself in custody and is now on trial for allegedly trying to smuggle some $500m (£380m) out of the country . José Filomeno dos Santos has denied wrongdoing.

"It feels personal. There is a genuine animus between the two families," said Ms Roque, of JLo's actions.

Then came a series of even more dramatic steps, as Ms Dos Santos' business assets in Angola were frozen by a local court, financial documents from within her empire were leaked to investigative journalists, leading to fresh allegations of corruption and damning global headlines.

Angolan President and The People's Movement for the Liberation of Angola President Jose Eduardo dos Santos and MPLA candidate to the presidency Joao Lourenco hold hands during the closing campaign rally in Luanda, on August 19, 2017.

That was followed, this week, by an announcement that an international arrest warrant would be issued if she did not return home to answer formal accusations of embezzlement.

Ms Dos Santos has called allegations revealed by leaked documents entirely false and said that the Angolan government was engaged in a politically motivated witch-hunt.

In a statement she said that they showed they were part of a "very concentrated, orchestrated and well-co-ordinated political attack, ahead of elections in Angola next year".

Who is Isabel dos Santos?

Isabel dos Santos Forum Ambrosetti in Villa d'Este event, Cernobbio, Italy

  • Eldest daughter of ex-President José Eduardo dos Santos
  • Married to Congolese art collector and businessman Sindika Dokolo
  • Educated in the UK, where she currently lives
  • Reported to be Africa's richest woman, with a fortune of some $2bn
  • Has stakes in oil and mobile phone companies and banks, mostly in Angola and Portugal

Source: Forbes magazine and others

"Going after the Dos Santos family initially seemed like an obvious vote-winner," said Ricardo Soares de Oliveira, an Oxford professor and expert on African politics.

The UK ambassador in Luanda, Jessica Hand, said last year the anti-corruption drive seemed genuine.

"What you have is a president who recognises that corruption is a stigma and a disincentive for foreigners to come here. He's tackling that… and his actions have demonstrated that in spades," she said.

But JLo's moves to tackle corruption is now in danger of being overshadowed, and perhaps even derailed, by the second, key, part of his reform program - the economy.

Angola, Africa's second biggest oil exporter and and also a major diamond producer, is currently wrestling with an abrupt economic downturn - the result, at least in part, of the tough reform package that JLo signed up to in return for a giant $3.7bn loan from the IMF.

"There is a big level of discontent, socially," Ms Dos Santos said, in a recent BBC interview, pointing to soaring unemployment, rising government debt, a currency devaluation, and increasing industrial action. "President Lourenço wants absolute power. But… his track record is very, very poor when you look at what happened in Angola over the last two years."

The corruption allegations against her are, she said, "an attempt of creating a diversion".

Ms Dos Santos' analysis may be self-serving. But that doesn't necessarily make it wrong.

"The economy is now in free-fall. JLo is milking this anti-Dos Santos thing because it's the one thing he's got," said Prof De Oliveira.

"But the population is becoming jaded and cynical. His popularity is wearing off and people are asking why is he not going after others.

"This is a very focused, targeted [anti-corruption] campaign. [Others] who are as bad as the Dos Santos family… are not touched. So, the hypocrisy is registering with most Angolans. My sense is this is more effective internationally than domestically," he said.

And so, Angola's "Gorbachev" suddenly finds himself treading a narrow, difficult path.

Who is João Lourenço?

Joao Lourenço

  • Active in MPLA struggle against Portuguese colonial rule as a teenager
  • Part of first group of guerrillas to enter Angolan territory from Congo-Brazzaville
  • Received military training and studied history from 1978 to 1982 in the former Soviet Union
  • General in the Angolan Armed Forces in post-independence civil war
  • Said to be one of the few Angolan generals and politicians free of allegations of involvement in major corruption scandals

He badly needs to shore up the MPLA's support base - now waning like that of so many African liberation parties - ahead of upcoming local and national elections.

But his own position within the party depends on him striking the right balance between a broader crackdown on corruption (which could help stimulate the economy and lead to the repatriation of billions of dollars in stolen assets) and protecting senior figures within the MPLA.

"There are the protected and the persecuted - those who are politically dispensable," said Ms Roque.

"People ask why some of the worst ones are being protected - those who are just as corrupt, but are part of the new government system and who are necessary for one reason or another, to keep equilibrium inside the party."

A wrestler poses on top of a truck overlooking a crowd attending an electoral meeting by Angolan President and The People's Movement for the Liberation of Angola President Jose Eduardo dos Santos and MPLA presidential Candidate Joao Lourenço

The general assumption is that the MPLA - worn out but still dominant, much like the ANC in South Africa - will retain control of Angola for some years to come by fair means or foul.

But JLo, like South Africa's new President Cyril Ramaphosa, is quickly learning how hard it is to rebuild a brittle, fragmented party from within, and to make any serious headway against corruption when so many key state institutions are rotten to the core.

'Like a tango in the dark'

In this context, the fate of Ms Dos Santos and her business empire (so important to the Angolan economy) could still be settled by negotiations, behind the scenes.

"It's hard to say if this is the endgame. The relationship between the Dos Santos family and JLo is very complicated. It's like a tango in the dark," said Darias Jonker, from the Eurasia Group.

"They do need each other to varying degrees and ways, but they're also in competition. They're frenemies - so to speak."

There's no doubt that JLo - who once compared himself to China's reformist leader Deng Xiaoping - has allowed the winds of change to sweep through Angola.

People are seizing the opportunity to speak out, without repercussion, and to challenge decades of repressive, inefficient rule and staggering inequality.

But, as the Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev discovered to his own cost, truly radical reforms, like revolutions, tend to devour their own.


Source: BBC

Published in Economy

A senior female manager with Fidelity Bank Plc, Lagos, Agatha Dunu Igwe has been arraigned before a Lagos Magistrates’ Court for allegedly obtaining the sum of N42 million from the Managing Director of Maydom Pharmaceutical Limited under false pretence.

Police said that Igwe allegedly obtained the money from the complainant on the pretext to use the money to lobby senior officials of the bank to help him to secure a $1 million import finance loan from Fidelity Bank Plc, a claim the police said the accused knew to the false.

Igwe was arrested by the operatives of the Police Special Fraud Unit, PSFU at Ikoyi, Lagos and after investigation by Supol Akio and his team, Igwe was charged before the Igbosere Chief Magistrates’ Court on a three-count charge of obtaining money under false pretence and stealing.

Police counsel, Supol George Nwosu told the court in charge No: F/5/2020 that the accused,, a staff of Fidelity Bank Plc, committed the offence between March and May, 2017 at Ilupeju, Lagos.

Nwosu told the court that the accused tricked the complainant and collected a total sum of N42 million from him to help lobby some officials of the bank to help him secure a one millions dollar import finance loan from the bank knowing full well that there was nothing like that at the Fidelity Bank Plc.

He said that the complainant decided to report the matter to the police when Igwe could not secure the loan facility and did not refund the N42 million back to him.

Nwosu said the offences, the accused committed were punishable under sections 411, 324 and 287 of the criminal law of Lagos State, 2015.

The accused, however, pleaded not guilty to the alleged offence in the court and Chief Magistrate O.O Oshin granted  her N500, 000 bail with two sureties in like sum who must have N1 million in their bank account.

Oshin adjourned the case till 24 February, 2020 for mention and ordered that the defendant be kept at the Kirikiri Correctional facility till she perfected the bail conditions.

Published in Bank & Finance

Viruses are quick studies. They’re prolific at adapting to new environments and infecting new hosts. As a result they are able to jump the species divide from animals to humans – as the new coronavirus in China is showing.

It’s estimated that 89% of one particular family of viruses, known as RNA viruses, are zoonotic in origin. This means that they started in animals and have since become established among humans. RNA viruses are notorious for being able to mutate in a range of environments. This family of viruses includes everything from Ebola and West Nile Fever to measles and the common cold.

The Severe acute respiratory syndrome-related coronavirus (or SARS-CoV) that broke out in Asia in 2003 is also an RNA virus; so too is the significantly more virulent and fatal Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS‐CoV), first identified in Saudi Arabia in 2012. Both are zoonotic. SARS-CoV is believed – although it’s never been confirmed – to have originated in bats. Infected dromedary camels are thought to have been the source for MERS-CoV.

Overall around 10% of those infected with SARS died. The mortality rate for MERS is estimated to be around 35%.

Seven human coronaviruses (HCoVs) have been identified to date: two in the 1960s, and five since SARS in 2003. It is the seventh that is now making headlines.

Latest virus on the block

In December 2019, a number of people fell ill with what was soon confirmed to be a newly identified coronavirus, provisionally dubbed 2019-nCoV. At this stage, it’s suspected but not confirmed that the outbreak originated in one seafood market in Wuhan, a city some 700 miles south of Beijing. The market has been closed since January 1.

As of 26 January 2020, 2,014 laboratory-confirmed cases of 2019-nCoV have been reported by the World Health Organisation, with 56 fatalities. The virus has, thanks to modern international travel, reportedly spread to five other countries: Thailand, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and the US. On the African continent, authorities in Ivory Coast were on 27 January testing a suspected case of the virus in a student who returned to the country from China over the weekend.

As with other coronaviruses, 2019-nCoV is zoonotic in origin. While it’s too early to confirm, it appears that 2019-CoV is what’s known as a recombinant virus. This means it bears the genetic material of both bats and snakes, suggesting that the virus jumped from bats to snakes in the wild – and then, of course, to humans.

Coronaviruses were originally associated with a wide spectrum of respiratory, intestinal, liver and neurological diseases in animals. In the 1960s, with the advancement of laboratory techniques, the first two HCoVs (HCoV-229E and HCoV-OC43) were isolated from patients. These were associated with upper respiratory tract infections, causing mild cold-like symptoms. For this reason, the circulation of HCoVs in the human population was not monitored and no vaccines or drugs were developed to treat CoV infections.

Then, since the outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome in China in 2003, five additional human coronaviruses were identified – SARS-CoV (2003), HCoV-NL63 (2004), HCoV-HKU1 (2004), MERS-CoV (2012), and now 2019-nCoV.

As with SARS, the elderly, especially those with existing health conditions, are the most vulnerable with 2019-nCoV.

The outbreak is not entirely unexpected. Coronaviruses are among the emerging pathogens that the World Health Organisation in 2015 identified as likely to cause severe outbreaksin the near future.

For a long time is was difficult to identify the causative agent of infectious diseases. The rapid development of various molecular detection tools has enabled researchers to identify several new respiratory viruses. It has also helped with the characterisation of novel emergent strains.

This was what scientists were able to do within weeks of the first case of the Wuhan coronavirus.

An emerging infection

Coronavirus infections also fall within the crop of diseases known as emerging infectious diseases or newly emerging infectious diseases. These are infections that:

  • have recently appeared within a population, or

  • whose incidence or geographic range is rapidly increasing, or

  • at the very least threaten to increase in the near future.

As with SARS and MERS, many emerging diseases arise when infectious agents in animals known as zoonoses are passed to humans. As the human population expands and populates new geographical regions – often at the expense of wildlife – the possibility that humans will come into close contact with animal species that are potential hosts of an infectious agent increases.

Combined with increases in human density and mobility, it is easy to see that this combination poses a serious threat to human health.

Each of these diseases has come with societal and economic repercussions. Apart from illnesses and deaths, travel, business and daily life are affected. There’s also always the risk of public fear and economic losses.

High risk

There’s an ever-increasing diversity of animal coronavirus species, especially in bats. So the likelihood of viral genetic recombination leading to future outbreaks is high. The threat of future pandemics is real as highly pathogenic coronaviruses continue to spill over from animal sources into the human population.

Misdiagnosis of future outbreaks poses an additional threat to healthcare workers, with hospital-based spread to other patients putting further pressure on already strained healthcare systems.


Morgan Morris, a freelance writer and filmmaker based in Cape Town, co-authored this article.The Conversation

Burtram Fielding, Director: Research Development and Principal Investigator: Molecular Biology and Virology Research Laboratory Department of Medical BioSciences, University of the Western Cape

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Published in World
  1. Opinions and Analysis


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