Anybody who earns money, be it an individual, a business, a non-profit organisation or a government has clients. Attention to detail means: you notice everything that might be important to at least some clients, some of the time and act on those things in a complete and precise manner.
We miss the money when we do not pay attention to detail. In 2006, the Nairobi Stock Exchange was making people become rich almost overnight. The Kenyan government decided to list the shares of a parastatal on the stock market and opened up the opportunity to investors from East Africa. A friend took interest in the opportunity, she also had a significant amount of money to invest but lacked one thing: a government issued identification.
I was shocked that my friend did not have a valid passport and yet her father had been a government minister for 20 years. The opportunity was very lucrative for those invested but the lack of a passport or drivers permit locked her out.
Earlier than 2006, a delegation struck a deal with a gulf country that required Uganda to supply 3,000 goats every week. A few weeks later a team from the gulf country jetted in to conclude the process and see the first batch of goats.
Whereas goats are common across Uganda, most households keep less than 10 goats and a good number of them are not willing to sell their stock every week. Needless to say the goat deal was a nonstarter; because we did not pay attention to detail.
Ugandans are prone not to pay attention to detail and that is very worrying. I can think of many examples such as plumbers who put the hot label on the cold water tap, builders who put hotel mirrors at chest level instead of head level, workers whose only consistence is to fail to enter correct salary details of government employees into the computer, an Electoral Commission that is unbothered even when it is clear many citizens got deregistered during a supposed voter registration process.
Our economic progress will be realised if “made in Uganda,” our national brand, becomes both popular and profitable. That requires we improve our attention to detail.
James Abola is the Team Leader of Akamai Global, a business and finance consulting firm. Email: email@example.com