Are your employees prepared for their relocation to Africa?
Given the broad cultural, political, language, and religious diversity within Africa, proactively implementing mobility best practices can help mitigate potential issues and ultimately ensure assignment success for both the employee and the corporation.
ImmigrationThe most obvious first component is immigration. The immigration processes throughout the world seems to be in a constant state of flux, with changes occurring sometimes overnight. As this process is quite an arduous one, it is critical for companies to work with a reputable global immigration firm that will act as a trusted partner and will advocate on their behalf and guide them and their employees through the rigid, complicated process. Global immigration firms are aware of the constant changes that affect the immigration process throughout the world, so their knowledge about the nuances involved can be invaluable. Otherwise, if handled incorrectly, the immigration process can become an operational nightmare that is tied together with layer upon layer of red tape.Delays, while oftentimes unavoidable, still translate into additional costs for the company. Projects can get sidelined as employees are unable to gain legal entry into the country, and are subsequently unable to successfully begin and complete the assignment.
Cultural TrainingWithout a doubt, one of the best reasons to accept an international assignment is the opportunity to explore a new culture. Yet, cultural training is highly regarded as a necessary ingredient to best prepare the employee for a new work environment. Statistics show that there is a direct correlation between the cultural training and assignment preparedness that the employee receives pre-departure, and the success or failure rate of that assignment.
Language TrainingAfrica is a continent of high linguistic diversity, with an estimated 1,500 to 2,000 African languages spoken there. Apart from those languages, French is the predominant language that is spoken throughout many African countries. This can pose quite a challenge for English-speaking employees.Language barriers often come into play both in the employees’ ability to communicate with each other, and in their ability to communicate with locals in the region. Implementing a language program that addresses informal and business requirements are vital to ensuring assignment success.
Safety and SecurityAnother key component when moving employees into Africa is identifying and implementing an emergency and evacuation plan. While this policy component is a best practice to have in place with all international assignments, it is essential within Africa given the pockets of political, cultural, or religious unrest across the continent. While companies obviously can neither prevent nor predict emergency situations, they do have a duty of care when it comes to the safety and wellbeing of their employees who are traveling and working in foreign countries. As such, corporations are wise to take a proactive approach by educating employees of potential risks that they could encounter while living and working in a specific area or region. Presenting a detailed emergency and/or evacuation plan can provide the employee with peace of mind, while ensuring they know the appropriate measures to take should the need arise.
- Increasing complexities surrounding customs regulations have made the movement of household goods into Africa a significant challenge for mobility managers of late. “While in the past, expat deliveries were typically secured within two months after arrival at the port, there are now unpredictable extended wait times within many African locations. Nigeria can now take between 3-4 months to obtain a customs release, and Angola up to 6 months”, says Josie Longdon, Global Account Manager at TheMIGroup. Furthermore, adds Longdon, “Ongoing changes to allowances can cause complications. As an example, in the past Nigeria and Congo were able to accommodate unlimited shipments of alcohol, however now we can only accept a maximum of four cartons to Nigeria, and none to Congo”.
- With customs allowances and clearance times continuously in flux, mobility managers should be proactive in consulting your household goods carrier to obtain the most up-to-date list of regulations based on the destination country.