A potential ‘Brain Drain’ of talented youth in Africa means that governments across the continent are going to have to evolve their immigration policies to mitigate it.
According to leading immigration consultancy, Fragomen Africa, immigration rules and processes around the world are rapidly changing, and African countries must keep pace to stimulate economies, retain talent, and attract new specialised workforces.
Earlier this year, the African Youth Survey 2022 reported that of the thousands of 18 – 24-year-old people surveyed across 15 countries in Africa, more than half were considering emigrating – mostly to find gainful employment.
Our own Worldwide Immigration Trends Report 2022 has shown that during the global pandemic, governments across the world were imposing heightened criteria for entry and exit purposes. But this is slowly changing to revive the economies after the COVID-19 pandemic – especially in the developing world.
The Fragomen global research showed that many countries in sub-Saharan Africa are increasingly digitalizing immigration systems to attract foreign direct investment and tourism.
Citing South Africa as a prime example, Ms Kanzara says that work visa systems will have to be re-examined to attract talent to Africa and keep the ones already there.
While there has been a move in the right direction with South Africa’s immigration systems, these changes have not been significant enough to enable business travellers and tourists to reach the country easily.
Our research has shown that across the world, we expect to see more countries adopting and expanding their digitalization processes for visa issuance. This will be especially important in the Global South if we are going to bring in top talent from across the world.
To date, 44 per cent of African countries have eVisa systems enabling over 180 nationalities to reach the continent for tourism and foreign direct investment purposes. Additionally, countries like Mauritius, Nigeria, Rwanda, and Zambia are making strides to develop visa options aimed at attracting and retaining foreign talent for economic development and to be globally competitive.
Fragomen’s report has outlined, however, that unless this digitalisation is handled carefully: “Outdated technological infrastructure systems and the challenges of managing change, especially during a COVID-19 crisis recovery period, may limit process efficiencies and could cause severe disruptions over the next several years.”
Ultimately, we hope to see a greater evolution of immigration policy across the continent, as this will help foster intra-regional mobility and trade.
Other findings in the report include:
- In Nigeria, policy changes in February created categories for visa types, visas-on-arrival for all African Union members, biometrics tracking, investor visa options, and a new visa for Nigerian nationals using dual passports.
- Mozambique is another prime example of a country using digitisation for a specific project (Rovuma Basin) as a way of prioritising applications due to large demands.
- Outside of COVID-19-related policies, some governments restructured immigration departments (such as the Republic of Congo) and streamlined residence and work permit processes (Mauritius).