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High Salaries and Great Job Prospects Draw Expats to Africa

Munich, 19 May 2015
Senegal and Nigeria excel with regard to job satisfaction and personal finance

Munich, 19 May 2015 – On the 25th of May, the founding of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) will be commemorated. As this historic day draws near, InterNations (, the largest network for people who live and work abroad, takes a closer look at why every sixth of its more than 1.6 million members is currently living in an African country. Despite long work weeks and security concerns, hundred thousands of career-focused people are moving abroad to work and thrive in Africa’s largest economies, where the highest percentage of expatriates worldwide make more than 250,000 USD annually.

Better Career Prospects through a Life Abroad

About every third expatriate moves for career-related reasons. Moving after finding a job abroad on their own is the number one reason expatriates gave for their move abroad according to the results of the Expat Insider survey, with 16 percent worldwide. These numbers are much higher in Africa than in many other parts of the world. In Nigeria, 26 percent of expats said that finding a job there on their own was their primary reason for relocating and 25 percent in Kenya stated the same. According to the survey results, being sent abroad by an employer is the second most popular reason for moving abroad, with 13 percent listing this as their primary motivation for relocating. An astounding 63 percent of expats moved to Nigeria primarily for career-related reasons, which is drastically different from the 36 percent global average. Kenya follows with 58 percent moving there for similar reasons.

Hashim Zein, the InterNations Ambassador in Nigeria, states that, “Africa poses very interesting opportunities for expats; there is a dearth of specialized experience due to previous brain drains and the relatively rapid development on the continent.”

Where Expatriates Earn the Most

With twelve percent, Nigeria has the highest percentage of expatriate households that fall within the highest income group with more than 250,000 USD annually. The African country is followed by Russia and Kazakhstan with eleven percent each, as well as Switzerland and Malaysia (both nine percent). The second African country that finds itself among the top ten in the high income category is Egypt at five percent. The global share of expatriates making that much money abroad is three percent only.

“The perceived risk of relocating makes risk pay an additional source of income, not to mention the burden of housing and transportation borne by several employers in countries such as Nigeria,” says Zein, “On the whole, there are more opportunities to maximize expendable income for expats in Africa.”

High Income, High Cost of Living

Nigeria ranks second in the world – overtaken by Ecuador only – when it comes to the overall satisfaction with the personal financial situation, with 78 percent of expatriates giving a positive response. Of the respondents in Nigeria, 91 percent consider their income at the very least sufficient for daily life and 34 percent even state that they earn more then what they would need to get by, compared to 76 percent worldwide feeling that their income is enough to get by. This result is remarkable taking into account Nigeria’s very high costs of living.

“The neighborhoods where expats live tend to be more secure and more premium and the costs are directly proportional to that,” reflects Zein, “Food items typical of Western, South Asian and Far East cuisines, for example, are imported and naturally cost more as they differ somewhat from local tastes”.

Long Working Hours, High Job Satisfaction

Expatriate workers in Africa do not seem deterred by the long work weeks. Nigeria has the longest work week in the world, with expats clocking in 48.2 hours per week on average. Expat workers in Ghana follow in a close second place with 47.8 hours. In fact, four out of the ten countries with the longest work week are located in Africa. Senegal and Kenya also make the top ten with 44.4 hours and 44.3 hours, respectively. Expat workers do not seem to mind putting in the extra work, though: More than half of the respondents in Nigeria, Ghana, Senegal and Kenya rate their working hours and work-life balance positively.

Expatriates in the West African country Senegal are happiest with their local career prospects and have high job satisfaction. A significant 78 percent of expatriates in this country rated their career prospects positively, as opposed to the 58 percent of expats worldwide who feel the same. Job satisfaction in Senegal is also impressive, with 69 percent responding positively. Nigeria follows closely in the third spot, with 74 percent stating that they are satisfied with their job and 64 percent rating their career prospects positively. Kenya cracks the top ten as well, with 60 percent saying they are happy with their job prospects and 70 percent giving their job satisfaction a positive rating. The survey results give Africa a respectable standing when it comes to these topics. 

About InterNations

With more than 5.3 million members in 420 cities around the world, InterNations is the largest global community and a source of information for people who live and work abroad. InterNations offers global and local networking and socializing, both online and face to face. At around 6,000 events and activities per month, expatriates have the opportunity to meet other global minds. Online services include discussion forums and helpful articles with personal expat experiences, tips, and information about life abroad. Membership is by approval only to ensure we remain a community of trust. InterNations is part of the New Work SE, a group of brands that offer products and services for a better working life.

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