Whenever Africa makes the front pages, it is usually to do with political instability, conflict or economic and social problems.
And yet, the continent has a lot to offer to candidates choosing to make a career there.
For those seeking a professional future there, we advise considering the following key factors in order to make your expatriation a success:
1. Certain qualities are obviously welcome; among others an open mind and curiosity will be essential for a successful expatriation. It is a diverse continent with a great variety of cultures, often within the same country, so take an interest in those around you and above all remain open-minded.
2. Adaptability: this is a determining factor for expatriation in Africa, just as elsewhere; it will impact as much on success from a professional point of view as it will from a personal one. French and English remain the official languages in the majority of African countries, which makes it easier for many expats to adapt. Expatriation is a dream opportunity to create new professional and personal circles – so make contacts, take an interest in local activities and customs, find out about local cuisine, etc.
3. Patience and resilience will also be vital to success on the African continent. Although water, electricity and transport infrastructures are constantly improving, they remain of differing quality across the various countries. But expatriation means a certain culture shock – change of habits and change of environment: and after all isn’t this one of the reasons to decide to leave?
4. Before accepting to be expatriated it is important to question motivation and interest; for professional duties, the country, the company and daily life. Be sure about why you want to go – is it to give a boost to your career? to gain skills and have greater responsibility? to improve your salary? or just for a change of scenery? Even if it seems obvious, do not go unless you are motivated and interested!
5. Make the decision, don’t just put up with it. In general, expatriation should be an opportunity and not something imposed by your employer or your partner. If it is you who triggers the departure, do not forget to check all the working conditions (salary, perks, etc.) If, on the other hand, you are following a partner, it is still important to be able to develop personally, whether through a professional activity or not.
6. Even if it might seem obvious (a lot of people still see Africa as a single country) this continent has over fifty countries, all different one from the other. It is therefore essential to prepare the project and to be properly informed – about living and working conditions, climate, social life, appropriate insurance and vaccines, visas, budget, schooling, etc. To do this, do not hesitate to call on the help of your future colleagues and/or your recruiter! Nonetheless, all these criteria have to be evaluated in relation to your expectations.
7. Anticipate your return. In the same way, the end of an expatriation must be well prepared, because professional and social reinsertion will also be necessary. Expats reluctant to leave are often just the same way about coming back. Don’t let coming back spoil your expatriation.
8. Last but not least… Benefit from it! Expatriation remains both a chance and an opportunity (professional, cultural, personal and financial) – don’t forget this.