HR Opportunities for Expats in Kenya


I am Kevin from Mauritius and I am currently looking forward to relocate to Kenya. I possess a BSc (Hons) Management and MSc Human Resources Studies from the University of Mauritius. I am additionally pursuing a Degree, on a distance-learning mode, in Law from the University of London. I have worked for Nestle Equatorial African Region for the past four years, in numerous HR roles. I am presently working in a challenging HR position for a local leading company. I have travelled throughout numerous African countries including Kenya; where I managed to learn some basic Swahili.

I am keen to contribute to the economy of Kenya through the use my insights and experiences, as an expat or even through a mission-based job.

But, I am quite tired or rather discouraged of looking for job opportunities. The labour market for expats seems restrained.

What is your advice for me? How can I secure a good HR job in Kenya or another African country?



The labour market is highly competitive in Kenya, with the added complication of the fact that there are many well qualified graduates who are unemployed.  This is of concern to the government, who have recently turned their attention to the issue of foreign workers, particularly within the NGO sector.  The concerns are twofold:  Foreign workers attract a higher salary (and traditionally benefits, such as a housing allowance).  Foreign workers may have the same skill sets that can be found within the local workforce, thereby locking out a suitably qualified Kenyan.  It seems likely that work permits will not be renewed and there was some talk of withdrawal of work permits in some cases.

What this is leading up to, is that Kenya is not a particularly easy country for a foreigner to come and work.  For most employment, you must secure a job offer, then your employer makes the work permit application.  Part of this is evidencing that the have been unable to fill the vacancy from the local workforce.  The employer should also commit to training up a Kenya for the role, so the renewal of a work permit (usually valid for two years) is far from guaranteed.  The process typically takes 2 to 3 months, during which you have no right to remain in Kenya beyond the validity of your current status (often a single entry visa).

For self employment (establishing your own HR set up, for instance), you must have a minimum capital of $100,000, before you can operate your company via an application for an  'investors work permit'.  Ironically, you can establish and register a company using a single entry visa, but you cannot legally work within it, if you don't have a work permit.

Work (and residence) permits are very costly and the background of rampant corruption in immigration means that large bribes are often sought, although this also means that some rules can be 'overlooked'. 

From my own experience, even though the new constitution should apparently make it easy for me to settle in Kenya, I find that old fashioned attitudes prevail, officials can be difficult and obstructive and applications can be sat on for long periods of time (particularly for those unwilling to bribe).

Thank you for the helpful response. I agree with the views put forth.
I am trying my best to secure a job offer first before I can relocate to Kenya. It seems difficult though.

I think that the key is to be persistent and possibly rework your CV to highlight any 'special' skills that may set you apart from other applicants.

I have done so but I'll review it again, to see how I can possibly improve it.

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