Whether you're a first-time business traveller to Africa or a regular, the heat, noise and number of people wanting your attention from the moment you arrive can be overwhelming.
But Andrew Stark, General Manager of Corporate Traveller, has a range of tried and tested travel tips that will help you on your way:
* Cash is king in Africa, and the US dollar rules. While many countries accept credit cards, cash remains the most successful means of transacting. Don't consider taking a cash passport or travellers' cheques as they are not effective means to pay for anything. Also consider changing some of your US dollars into local currency, but only enough for your day-to-day needs. You will not be able to change the local currency back into rands when you return to RSA.
* Understand the cultural nuances of the country to be visited. For example, business society in Nigeria is relatively formal, so it is appropriate to address Nigerians by their surnames, while a suit or jacket and tie are expected for business meetings. Ladies should avoid wearing trousers and dress modestly.
* It is highly advisable to use reputable, well-known local operators. Your travel manager will advise you on the best operators who can be counted on to be reliable.
* It is advisable to use airlines that have more frequent flights in and out of your destination. This will avoid lengthy delays if there are changes to your flight.
* Travel insurance is a must. There are a variety of health risks to be aware of when travelling through Africa, and the health facilities are not generally of a first-world standard.
* Planning is essential. Make sure that you have the relevant visas, that your immunisations are up to date, you have the necessary cellphone coverage and that you have adequate finances for your business trip.
* If hiring a vehicle, hire a local driver as well. In certain countries, the driver will be arrested if an accident occurs. If you are the driver you could land in jail for the duration of the investigation, and this is not conducive to productivity.
* In Lagos, it can take between three and four hours to travel 12km to the airport. So it is imperative to allow enough time to get to the airport, plus the two hours needed for international check-in required by the airline.
* Traffic can be a nightmare, so rather try to conduct your business meetings at your hotel.
* Don't be tempted to drink the tap water – stick to bottled water and make sure the ice in your drink is made from bottled water, or avoid it altogether.
For more information on business travel, speak to Corporate Traveller on 0860 400 787 or visit www.corporatetraveller.co.za.