Today is a post on something I learned the hard way: bill paying.
We received our electricity bill about a month before it was due, but I didn't get around to paying it until the due date. I walked into the office nearest my house around 10 a.m., fully expecting to wait in a short line to pay in cash (as I don't have a local bank account and this is essentially a cash society). I took my ticket and was number 584 in line. The number being called upon my arrival was 107.
I sat for three hours, went out to run an errand and grab some lunch (around number 250), and returned to sit for 2 more hours before the office closed. Good thing I brought a book. And my electricity bill was now overdue.
That night at home, I read the fine print on my bill and the website and realized that I could pay it through Orange Money, a mobile money system (similar to M-Pesa in East Africa) where you deposit money into your mobile phone account essentially and can then pay bills, pay individuals, or purchase mobile credit.
The account is free, and for Westerners, the payment fees (100-200 FCFA/0.20-0.40 USD) are negligible. And I would have saved hours and lots of confusion. Do it.
Travel and research notes
Fieldwork and travel in Côte d'Ivoire, Senegal, Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Mali, as well as Burkina Faso, Morocco, Tanzania, South Africa, and wherever else I end up. Plus occasional research-related thoughts.