Posted by: Martin | February 25, 2012

Shipping and Chickens

Off the Coast of Guinea Bissau

It’s taken a while, but Car #2 and Car #3 – two Toyotas I’m sending to the Ivory Coast to become taxis – have reached West Africa and should be in Abidjan in a couple of days.   I’m tracking the container ship “Grande Argentina” that carries the cars on http://www.marinetraffic.com:

So, right now,  it’s off the coast of Guinea Bissau doing 17.5 knots which is slow for a container ship, but at least faster than 19th century clipper ships.

News from the Chicken Front

On the chicken front, the construction is finished, and the first chickens and roosters are in place.  Now the idea is that they are going to reproduce so that their numbers increase to a maximum in about nine months.  Already in a couple months it should turn a profit though, and it will be very interesting to see how far away reality is from the seemingly to-good-to-be-true original budget projections.

One worrying sign is that I have received indications that the construction – while cheap, and roughly in line with budget – shouldn’t have costed as much as it did. This is the type of trust issues that are very hard to avoid – despite precautions – when investing in Africa while not living there.  And the handling of it can be make or break of the whole investment.

Anyhow here’s how the chickens are looking:


Responses

  1. A 19th century tea clipper, such as the preserved Cutty Sark in Greenwich, London, could do an average of 15 knots, and Cutty Sark had a top average speed of 17.15 knots. And were, of course, more eco-friendly, and built from reusable and sustainable resources. However no evidence that tea-clippers ever called into Cote d’Ivoire.

    What keeps your chickens in their enclosure, and their predators out. I often watch the skies in glorious Cote d’Ivoire, and watch the Eperviers (Sparrow Hawk, Kite, Falcon, etc) dive down on small chickens and chicks, for their breakfast. How are you keeping out rats and cats, and other carnivorous pests.

    And then there is your Cote d’Ivoire hungry citizen … do you have a G4S guard on duty, with electronic surveillance, and a panic button?

    • Hi Craig,

      Well, they are in a – somewhat ramshackle – but still building with roof. I think – or at least that’s what ppl tell me – the main risk is disease more than predator animals.

      As for protection from humans, there is a guard who lives on site 24/7.

  2. Hi Martin

    Good luck with both the chickens and the cars However, one word of warning. When predictions look ‘too good to be true’ they nearly always are! What proportion of taxi firms in Abidjan are making a profit that you’d be proud of? If it’s less than 50%, what makes you think you can be different? Sorry to be a downer but I’m reading a book called ‘Thinking Fast and Slow’ by Daniel Karneman and it’s really made me think about how we ignore statistics and probability in business. I hope your ventures work out – I’ll keep following the blog to find out.

    Jan

  3. Hi Jan,

    Thanks. Oh, I don’t think many taxi operators in Abidjan make more than 50%. There are a few reasons I believe I will make that return on my first taxi, and the biggest reason is that I had a bit of a stroke of luck in buying a fully functional 4-door diesel Toyota for 450 EUR. It involved being in a place with unusually cheap second hand cars, a friend who is a professional car dealer, a long trip to the countryside, and a farmer who didnt care much about the car, and wasn’t a very good negotiator.

    In Abidjan 4-door diesel Toyotas suitable for Taxi use cost around 4-5 million CFA Franc, making returns of 50% unrealistic.

    Kanheman’s book is on my to-read-list by the way!

  4. A message for Craig W: I think you may be descended from my grandfather’s elder sister Pauline Lily. if you are interested in following this up, please contact me via Curious Fox genealogy site. Sue

    • I found the site, but cannot find out how to proceed. My immediate grandparents were either Hitchcock (paternal) or Boyer (maternal). My mother’s first name is Pauline, though she has never used it, using her third name Beulah (the second is Margaret). You can also find me on Facebook, LinkedIn and InterNations.

      • OK n… not to be defeated, I’ve cracked Curious Fox, and you should have a couple of messages rom me now!

        Craig


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