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Expatriate Experiences: Working, living in Africa

Africa is the next big thing. The economy is growing and more and more jobs are being created in Africa. While most companies prefer to recruit locals, expatriates are employed when the required skill sets are not available in the local resource pool.

Contrary to perceptions, Africa is a great place to work and live, especially for those seeking new and exciting employment challenges. Jobs in Africa pay well, give overseas experience and a whole new exposure to a new working environment with colleagues from various nationalities and cultures. As a result Africa recruitment agencies receive many candidates interested in jobs in Africa and working in lucrative positions that many multinationals in the lion economy offer. I have stayed as an Expat in Mombasa, Kenya and cherish the experience greatly.

Mombasa is the second largest city in Kenya. Our employer provided us a beautiful furnished apartment, car and driver. Carpenters, plumbers and odd-job men were sent at call. Affordable and extremely competent English speaking maids are easily available.

Overall infrastructure of the city is good. Water, electric and phone connections are easily available. Landlines and cell phones are expensive. But making calls from Kenya to India is reasonable via Internet Phoning. There are good hospitals and doctors but medical care is expensive.

Schooling is reasonably good. I found daily necessities like fruits, vegetables etc. In the local markets. For the lazy shoppers, I recommend Mombasa’s lifeline – Nakumatt, for everyday shopping. This huge supermarket chain also stores all global and local brands under one roof.

Those taking their family along need not worry about schooling as there are many international schools with latest facilities. Children and teachers from various cultures and nationalities make schooling in Kenya a fruitful experience.

Being a part of the large expat community in Mombasa, we regularly visited the numerous temples in the city, celebrated festivals together and had a great social life, which at times was better than in India. All things Indian are available – the cuisine, cinemas, groceries and clothes. It is a popular tourist town with many recreation facilities like Safaris, Beautiful beaches and resorts. There are some good discos, pubs and casinos as well.

On the flipside, there are security risks like in the rest of Africa and other underdeveloped countries worldwide. As long as you take the recommended precautions like we did, you will be fine. As with most developing countries, there is corruption and poverty. Maids steal; drivers and maids borrow money and do not pay back the loans. We learnt to take this in our stride, became smart and avoided unpleasant situations.

The city is beautiful and full of life. There is natural beauty, wonderful, civilised people and laid back life. We realised that most negative perceptions about Africa are highly exaggerated.

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