Africa: What's on the offer for expats in 2022

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  • African city
    Kehinde Temitope Odutayo /
Published on 2022-01-10 at 10:00 by Mikki Beru
Africa is currently on the move. Despite the pandemic, African economies are growing, as evidenced by Morocco's new economic plan. Faced with new global challenges such as global warming, clean energy, health, etc., countries are committing themselves, relying on international talents. So what's on the offer for expatriates in Africa? 

Africa's strengths

African Energy Week, Women in Agile, Meeting of Public Securities Markets, International Mining and Career Fair, Entrepreneurship Fair, Solar Expo Morocco, Africa Pay and ID Expo are some of the most awaited events of the year… Initially planned for the beginning of December, the Africa Invest Forum has been postponed until further notice. Still, African countries have a full agenda for 2022. Ecology, sustainable development, industry, IT, finance, development, marketing, education, health, cybersecurity are at the heart of priorities ... In a complex global context due to the pandemic, States are organizing themselves to boost their attractiveness.

Still, there are clear signs of recovery. Akinwumi Ayodeji Adesina, president of the African Development Bank Group, is optimistic: “African economies are gradually recovering from the pandemic. The whole continent's growth is expected around "3.4%" this year. The IMF relies on the same statistics but points out disparities from one country to another. According to the African World Bank, Nigeria, South Africa, Egypt, Algeria and Morocco are currently the five richest countries in terms of GDP.

To attract foreign talent, States are flaunting their growth sectors. An oil and gas powerhouse, Nigeria is also a leading agricultural producer (agriculture accounts for around 20% of the GDP). Faced with the multiple crises affecting the oil sector, the country - with a + 2.4% growth - is innovating and focusing its efforts on sustainable development and the green economy. President Muhammadu Buhari also presented a massive new electrification plan with the objective of increasing national production from 5000ww to 25,000ww by 2025. Obviously, all these new projects require both local and foreign talents. Ghana, with 6.6% growth, is almost regaining its pre-Covid economic health, has also implemented new projects. According to the Ghana Statistical Service (GSS), this growth is driven by education, health and social, information and communication, hotels and restaurants, agriculture. Morocco is also progressing with a + 6.3% growth) thanks to an ambitious set of reforms and innovations. An initiative of King Mohammed VI, the "New Development Model" (NMD) aims at greater socio-economic growth country by 2035. The Minister of Industry and Trade Ryad Mezzour introduced this government action plan in November 2021. The main objectives for 2022 are the strengthen and development of Morocco's leading economic pillars, in particular the agro-food industry, commerce, automobile, aeronautics and textiles. But this requires a revitalization of the labour market.

What about the pandemic? With roughly 8% of fully-vaccinated people, Africa is struggling against the pandemic. Between vaccine shortages and fear among the populations, governments are stepping up vaccination campaigns and strengthening health protocols, especially in terms of transport and international travel. They believe that safe mobility within African countries is one of the keys to economic growth.

Entry into African countries made easier

While most states encourage international mobility, they primarily seek African talents. The health crisis has affected all economies and particularly affected the labour market. But the African Visa Openness Index (AVOI) 2021 shows the new face of Africa. The continent continues its visa simplification policy despite the complex global health context, which requires even more vigilance. Combining efficiency, innovation, harmonization, and security is one of the main objectives of African states. In terms of innovation, 24 of them have already entered the e-visa era, compared to 15 in 2016. According to Monique Nsanzabaganwa, vice-president of the African Union Commission, this was an essential step. “The Covid-19 crisis has confirmed that Africa needs to be more self-sufficient. To get there, we need to boost intra-African trade, which means fewer visa restrictions. "

Could this result from the Covid-19 pandemic? In some countries, regulations were strengthened. AVOI reports that in 2020, only the Comoros offered a visa to all Africans arriving in the territory. In 2018, they were only 4 states (3 in 2016). Nine states, including Benin, Seychelles, Senegal and Mauritania, opened their doors with visa exemptions or visa on arrival requirements. Again, this is a significant drop from 2016, where 13 states had more relaxed entry requirements. Ultimately, 24% of Africans can obtain a visa upon arrival in another African state (up from 28% in 2020). 25% can travel freely without a visa (-1%, compared to last year). But for the majority, obtaining a visa is mandatory before the trip. This is where we have the strongest increase, from 46% in 2016 to 51% in 2021. However, these restrictions are not likely to last for long, since most African States are looking to harmonization. For Khaled Sherif, Vice-President of Regional Development, Integration and Service Delivery of the African Development Bank: “[…] countries which simplify the arrival of African businessmen, tourists, students and workers on their territories are those that attract the most foreign investors and talent. Their economies are likely to recover more rapidly." Jean-Guy Africa, head of the Regional Integration Coordination Office of the African Development Bank, believes that "encouraging the free movement of individuals will make it easier for Africans to do business on their continent. "

Political tensions are the actual brakes on African economies. Yet, investors and entrepreneurs believe in the continent's own resources. This is how the Club of Experts on Information Security in Africa (CESIA) was created in January 2020, under the leadership of Didier Simba, Information Systems Security Manager. Present in 18 African states, the CESIA campaigns for digital sovereignty, another booster for growth. Many African countries have already integrated into the digital era, especially North and West Africa. Talent mobility also aims at consolidating these achievements and promoting development in other countries. The high-tech boom hasn't spared Africa. This is a new chance to join a promising sector for expats in Africa. However, the doors remain open for those who are looking to showcase their talent strengths in the international labour market.