Expatriation: the keys to a successful job in Africa

Posted by Fed Africa in Career advice
Posted at 05/08/2022
Expatriation: the keys to a successful job in Africa
Being well prepared and structuring all the components of your project is the best way to put all the chances on your side and make this transition a success

With an expected growth rate of 4.1% in 2022 according to the African Development Bank, Africa is an exception in a context where global growth is at half-mast. Therefore, it is not surprising that more and more multinational companies are choosing to turn to the continent. However, while expatriation or diasporas’ return to Africa continues to grow, the process can be a source of concern for some candidates. Here are 5 tips to prepare for an expatriation to the African continent.

Do your research

Not all expatriations are created equal. For example, there is a difference between secondment contracts, expatriation contracts and local contracts. A secondment contract is set up when an employee is sent on a temporary assignment abroad on behalf of their employer. The secondment is the subject of an amendment to the employee's initial employment contract or of an assignment letter including a clear return date. An expatriation contract implies the signature of a new employment contract. It is a contract signed for an indefinite period, but with conditions in case of return, such as the guarantee of a reactivation of the old employment contract in case of return or dismissal. Finally, the "local contract" leads to breaking all ties with the company of origin and signing a new employment contract on site. A “local plus” contract offers more advantages to the expatriate employee. 

Study your contract

Expatriation is not a trivial matter. Even more than a traditional contract, the expatriation (or secondment) contract must therefore include a key element: the conditions of your return to your country of origin. First, make sure that your contract mentions all the practical information that will regulate your expatriation, such as working conditions, housing, insurance and return trips to your home country. The contract must also address the post-expatriation period, i.e., the conditions under which you will return. Ideally, the contract should mention the city where you will be assigned and, if possible, your future position. 

Don't neglect the short term

Moving to another continent usually brings with it a new corporate culture and new work tools. Whatever the differences, it will be up to you to adapt to what you find on the ground. But once the adaptation phase is over, you will be able to make proposals to integrate new practices into existing methodologies. 

Establish strategic communication

It is generally considered that a takeover is evaluated after 100 days. At the end of this period, think about communicating the new dynamics you intend to instill in the company as well as the actions you have taken. Now is time to plan for the long term. This is the time to implement more ambitious actions, which will be better received if you have implemented a series of positive measures within your department.  Does the position you hold need to be restructured? Prepare a communication plan outlining your plans for the coming months and years to reassure your employees, customers, and shareholders of the logic of your actions. 

Anticipate your return

It is essential to prepare your return to your country of origin, from a professional point of view, but also socially. Some people consider that it is more difficult to return than it is to leave in the first place. When you return from an expatriation, whether you were under a secondment contract or expatriated, you will often return to your company, but not systematically to your position. If you were on a local contract, you will have to go through a job search phase. Whatever your situation is, your return will be easier if you keep in touch with your professional and personal network in your country of origin. This will allow you to set up a career plan and to see what opportunities will be available to you after a more or less long stay abroad.

Fed Africa is a specialized recruitment firm for Top & Middle Management positions in Africa and the Middle East. The company accompanies you in your job search throughout the continent. Whether you are looking for an opportunity locally, in another country/region or you wish to move to Africa, our multisectoral experts are ready to listen to your project. Submit a spontaneous application now or find our latest published openings.