Work in Africa

Daniel Higginbotham, Editor
September, 2021

If you're looking to make a new start and put your specialist skills to good use, set your sights on working in Africa. International workers are in demand across the continent to fill skills shortages in a range of industries

Home to the world-famous Victoria Falls and Mount Kilimanjaro, exotic wildlife, as well as 54 sovereign states and roughly 1,500-2,000 spoken languages, Africa is a continent of rich cultural diversity with plenty to explore.

While 2020 saw the African economy experience its worst recession in half a century, due to the unprecedented global COVID-19 pandemic, the African Development Bank (AfDB) Group's African Economic Outlook 2021 report has projected economic growth of 3.4% in 2021.

A number of multinational companies, including big names such as Barclays, Deloitte, DHL, PwC, and Microsoft, have African bases - meaning you may be eligible to work in Africa without moving organisations.

Skills shortages

In 2017 the World Economic Forum published a report on The Future of Jobs and Skills in Africa, revealing how employers across the region identified inadequately skilled workforces as a major constraint to their businesses.

As many jobs in the region become more reliant on digital technologies, it was revealed that there is strong growth potential in areas such as digital design, creation and engineering, with STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) skills required for the future.

However, shortages across many of Africa's main industrial areas are due to a lack of technical knowledge, insufficient or non-existent training, or the lack of a university degree. International graduates may find that their skillset is crucial to a sector in need of expertise.

For instance, it was found that vocational courses in Kenya aren't in line with global standards, with the petroleum industry particularly suffering, and skills are also required in IT, accounting, business management, geology and engineering.

Meanwhile in Nigeria, the housing, automobile, textile and steel industries have been affected due to a lack of IT and soft skills.

If you've got the skills to teach English as a foreign language, or work in tourism, finance, media, or for a non-governmental organisation (NGO), you could be an asset to the African workforce.

Despite opportunities for foreign workers in a range of shortage areas, you should still aim to have secured employment before making the move - this may be necessary to obtain a visa. You're most likely to find work through a multinational company with a base in Africa.

The best places to work in Africa

In partnership with Brand Africa, African Business publishes an annual report, Brand Africa 100, a consumer-led survey which questions thousands of African adults to explore what makes a company appealing to prospective employees.

Findings from the 2021 report revealed that brands with an international presence continued to dominate the list, with the top five made up of:

  • Nike
  • Adidas
  • Samsung
  • Coca-Cola
  • Apple.

National companies such as South African telecoms provider MTN, Nigerian consumer brand Dangote and Ethiopian clothing company Anbessa appear in the top 30.

Multinational firms with an African presence, that made the cut, include:

  • Coca-Cola
  • Heineken
  • Nestlé
  • Unilever
  • Vodafone (Vodacom).

Those surveyed also expressed an interest in meaningful jobs, where their work had great social impact, as well as roles with excellent leadership. Salary was a less important factor to employee satisfaction.

African salaries

If you've set your sights on a generous pay packet, you may want to look elsewhere - salaries in Africa are generally lower than those for the same roles in the UK. For instance, Salary Explorer revealed that accounting and finance workers in Nigeria earned just £613 per month on average in 2021 - compared to the UK average monthly wage for an accountant working out at around £2,600 (

This is the same for those in the medical profession, although the range does go a bit higher in Kenya. While Kenyan Magazine reports that graduate nurses can only expect to earn up to £400 per month, specialist doctors receive at least £1,000 a month - with general medical practitioners taking home a monthly wage of up to £1,900. According to Salary Explorer, teachers earn an average of £1,025 per month in Kenya.

In comparison, salaries for junior hospital doctors in the UK range from £27,689 to £32,050 during training, while the minimum salary for newly-qualified teachers in England and Wales is £25,714.

However, you'll find that the cost of living balances this out - living in the UK is nearly three-and-a-half times more expensive than in Morocco or Kenya, and around five times more expensive than Nigeria and Egypt (MyLifeElsewhere).

Where to look for jobs

You can search for vacancies at:

Alternatively, consider volunteering through a company such as International Volunteer HQ or Kaya Responsible Travel.

Working in local communities, you'll find gap year programmes and work placements in a range of areas such as animal conservation, teaching and community sport. Completing a volunteer placement could open up job opportunities, and it also helps you develop the skills employers are looking for.

Start your job hunt online from your home country. Most companies accept applications through an online portal, where you'll upload a CV and complete an application form, before being invited for an online interview if you're successful.

African visas

While each country has its own requirements, you'll need a visa or permit to work in Africa - whether you have long-term plans or are looking for a temporary job. Contact the embassy or consulate of the country you'd like to move to for further information.

You should apply for a visa as early as possible. Having your application processed typically takes three working days, although you should allow for delays and other factors, such as the time needed to post your application if you can't submit it in person. Check with your chosen country's embassy or consulate for a more specific timeframe.

Bear in mind that some areas of Africa are classed as unsafe - visit GOV.UK - Foreign travel advice to find up-to-date information for travelling to your chosen country.

Study in Africa

Another way to experience life in Africa is to study abroad.

31 African universities now appear in the QS World University Rankings 2022. While most of these are in either Egypt or South Africa, institutions in Morocco, Uganda, Ghana, Kenya, Sudan and Tunisia also feature.

Also, 11 South African universities appear in The Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2022, with the University of Cape Town making the top 200.

Find out more

How would you rate this page?

On a scale where 1 is dislike and 5 is like

success feedback

Thank you for rating the page