Always wondered about moving to Africa? This topic is an interesting one a since a lot more British born Africans or Africans in the diaspora are interested in going ‘home’ to make an impact. The question is what does this look like and how should this be done? I like to look at the diaspora as contributing rather than being the saviour who will make all the changes on the continent and make it better. The big question is how can the diaspora play their part and this was a topic discussed at the BYP Conference.
BYP stands for Black Young Professionals and I had the privilege of being gifted a press ticket to the first ever leadership conference with the likes of 800 other delegates and companies such as BT, Sky, PwC and more. One of the sessions I went to was called Africa Focused – How We Can All Play Our Part and I thought there were so many nuggets for people who are interested in moving to Africa that I had to share.
On this panel there was:
- Uche Ofodile CEO, Lonestar Cell MTN (was not there)
- Dr Ike Anya – Principal Consultant & Co-founder, EpiAfric
- Amaechi Nsofor – Partner and Head of Africa Business Group, Grant Thornton UK LLP
- Renata Dickson – Nwosu – Design Director & Owner, Studio Rdn-x
- Joseph Nwosu (as Host) – Marketing Strategist and Consultant
Here are 5 tips based on the panel for people who want to make an impact back home should keep in mind, in particular those who want to start a business:
1. Do not over romanticise it
I feel we are all guilty of doing this exact thing especially if we have only really been back to our respective countries during the holiday season. Christmas is high season and it also known as turn up season. Being back for two weeks is not the same as spending an unlimited time and generally living in a country. This is something to keep in mind when looking at contributing to the growth of our respective countries and moving there. Things will not be the same as it is where you currently live. Processes and procedures will be different, whether you think it is better or worse than you think it should be. If you are considering to move over it is going to be hard as everyone on the panel kept repeating but that does not mean it is not worth it. You have to know what you want to do and why you are doing it.
2. Try to understand life as a local and understand their needs
Trying to understand life as a local will help if you want to start a business. You need to understand the market you are going to serve and know their needs. You do not want to make assumptions based on your two week holiday back home. Whether you have a contact person in the country, or you invest in someone elses business in the country or you yourself go back and forth and try to learn more about how it is, it is up to you. If you have not grown up there you may have different view points to some people and have had a different upbringing meaning there are different point of views. Be prepared to observe and listen and understand how life is there.
3. Don’t Always Think You Know More
Just because you may be coming from “London” does not mean you know more. Do not try to go back and try to be a saviour because the continent does not need a saviour. You have to understand that people have learnt to do things a certain way so you need to acknowledge that. You don’t want to be that person who comes with the attitude of “in London this is how we do it” like you always know better and are better. Of course every country needs to grow, evolve and progress but you do not want to come across as someone who knows everything and is not ready to listen. Respect what they are doing, while making suggestions and improvements. Remember you can also learn things from them, so stay humble.
4. Have a Safety Cushion or a Plan B
As mentioned before it was recommended not to romanticise moving back. It is important to understand that moving back home will not always go as planned. Moving to Africa is hard and is consistently hard on a daily basis because everyday there will be something new you will have to deal with. Make sure you think about the resources you would need if no monry was to come in for 18 months to 2 years.
5. Understand Your Strengths
Understanding your strengths can help you. If you are someone who was born or grew up outside of the continent of Africa and are connected to your roots or love to keep connected to things on the continent you may feel you are too African for the country you currently live in and not African enough for your respective countries on the continent. On the other hand having experienced this you are easily adaptable and resilient, two traits you need to move back ‘home’. Along side those two things you have other traits, skills and knowledge to share.
A final tip I remember that was said was to get off Twitter and Facebook and do something, don’t just be a social media warrior about Africa if you really want to contribute.
It seems like a lot of people in the diaspora would love to either invest in Africa or move back. I also have a desire to move to Africa and contribute to the economy where I can. I hope these five tips about moving to Africa, help. Make sure to look out in 2020 for the next BYP Conference.
Wondering about how Africans are perceived in South Korea? You can read about that here!