The African Brain Drain – is it about to get worse?

Emigration has always been an issue in Africa – the great brain drain (The African Brain Drain) that’s seen countries like South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria lose considerable talent in a variety of key sectors to other countries. 

Banks, hospitals, hotels – you name it, they’ve all looked to Africa for talent. 

This puts a huge strain on African economies – I liken it a little to the world of football (or soccer if you’re in the US or RSA!) – lower league clubs will always struggle to climb the leagues as their key players will get snapped up by the bigger clubs. At least in this scenario, the lower league clubs earn a fee but if a Nurse, Doctor, Developer or Chef leaves their own country what remains? You may argue they may return and bring back knowledge and experience, perhaps they’ll send money back home, perhaps they’ll invest in an African business – but perhaps they won’t.

Of course, there will still be movement of people – those wanting to experience a different culture, educate their children in other countries and earn in a different currency – and there are trades where remote simply isn’t possible (I’m yet to see a remote Chef – although our very own Meghan Lee Mare’s husband Chris who’s the Executive Chef at the One & Only in Cape Town gave us a virtual cooking lesson!) 

I’ve spent the past few weeks speaking to numerous FinTech business leaders across Africa and the resounding feeling is that their businesses will undoubtedly come out of the pandemic stronger – however, there is an overwhelming concern about what this means for their most important asset, their people.

We’ve seen companies like Twitter announce that they are moving to 100% remote, Facebook has followed suit so all of a sudden, visa requirements, relocations and all their associated expenses and risks have disappeared.

What does this mean for companies in Africa? Are they now not only competing for talent locally but now going up against global companies with deep (USD/EUR/GBP) pockets? How many people have now decided that working from home is not only viable but actually a far better way to work? 

How are companies going to retain talent? Long gone are the days of fancy offices, foosball tables, baristas and a beer fridge. Companies are going to need to, URGENTLY, rethink their retention strategies, align their cultures with ‘the new norm’ and ensure that their selection and onboarding process is flawless. 

Understanding ‘The Why’ is more important than ever.  Are you ready? 

*Are you looking for FinTech Talent? Learn the secrets of how we’ve helped FinTech’s across EMEA recruit business transforming talent – Book a 30-minute Strategy Session
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