Why Africa is an Underrated Destination for Expats
When we think of expat destinations, Asian and European countries are perhaps the ones that most frequently come to mind. However, Africa has plenty to offer if you’re not above giving up the comforts of a large expat community. A growing number of people have recognized the opportunities that abound in the newly-revitalized continent, and while few expats have made their lives in Africa, generally speaking, it’s likely to enter more and more conversations in the coming years.
Here are just a few things about Africa that make it an attractive destination both for work and for retirement :
English and French are widely spoken
Unlike many highly industrialized nations, every single African country is multilingual. English and French are spoken widely throughout the continent, sometimes within just one country. In fact, it’s not unusual in some countries for the average citizen to know 5 languages, English and French included. Egypt, Mauritius, The Democratic Republic of Congo, Republic of Congo, Rwanda, and Burundi are just some of the countries notable for having both English and French as official or working languages, in addition to native languages and dialects.
If you only speak English, you can get by just fine, generally speaking. However, knowledge of French or Arabic will also really help you get around in dozens of countries in the region. This means that as far as languages go, it’s fairly easy to do business virtually everywhere in the content – and many African business people actually do.
Most African countries today are a lot more developed than you might realize
With only a few exceptions, most countries on the continent are currently experiencing an economic renaissance, fueled by investments from outside the Western world, particularly China. In the past generation, most African nations have developed bustling metropolitan areas, fueled by burgeoning export-driven manufacturing sectors, as African countries meet the demands of countries like China.
In many respects, the economies of Africa are quite similar to those of Latin America in the 1980s, being still highly dependent on agriculture and resource extraction, yet developing their own manufacturing and export bases. The major difference is that most of these countries are far more stable politically and have more diversified economies than Latin America as a whole in that period, which may mean that they are in a better position to exploit that growth for the benefit of their citizens.
The quality of life is improving throughout the continent
The Africa of today is not the famine-stricken continent of 30 or even 10 years ago. While poverty remains an issue, extreme poverty has been in constant decline for decades, the middle class has been expanding at a rapid clip as well. What this means is that in nearly every African country, there is a rising demand for goods and services that would have been unthinkable just a decade ago.
Smartphone use has also led to a new crop of internet users and a corresponding infrastructure, which has in turn driven innovation in the continent as it did in the rest of the world a generation ago. Popular on-demand services such as Uber have even found their way in a number of African countries and local startups are attempting to meet international giants head-on in their home turf.
To make things short, Africans now have money, and they’re willing to spend it. The Chinese have noticed, and soon the rest of the world will want to get a piece of it too.
However, while things are definitely on the up and up, there does remain a few blind spots. Healthcare is quite poor by most standards, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa and in the rest of the continent in general. If you do make the awesome choice of working and living in Africa, be sure to get international insurance from Now Health International or other similar insurers to help keep you covered.
It’s filled with scenic landscapes, natural wonders, and more
We all know this about Africa, but it does bear repeating. With the very notable exception of Egypt, the continent’s man-made and natural wonders are not often visited by Westerners, at least compared to other destinations around Europe and Asia, and that’s a great thing. When you’re at a notable spot, chances are you have it all to yourself. That in itself can be a good reason to at least visit.