As millions of people learn more about the world, Africa has emerged as a leading destination. Some want to explore the business opportunities available by its growing middle class. For others, it is the prospect of life in a different culture. For whatever reason, you should know a few things before moving to Africa.
In this article, I will be your guide, covering the basics of what it means to live in the world’s second-most-populous continent. Are you ready? Let us dive in.
1. Prepare for a culture shock.
Social media and a ton of online information might make it seem like you know everything you need to know about your destination country. But I can tell you that is not true. Africa is so vast and diverse that it is difficult to capture the experience in digital formats.
As someone who has lived here for more than two decades, I still get surprised by some of the things I experience or learn about life in Africa. For instance, women moving to Africa without a husband would find that most African men are very traditional.
Don’t let this intimidate you, however. It only means you are poised for an exciting time, however long you plan on staying.
2. There is bribery in your future.
This is particularly useful if you are coming from a developed nation where most people do their job without any nudge. From the top government official to the lowly security officer, life in Africa often means using bribes to motivate people to get things done.
I know. Humans, including Africans, being corrupt is not breaking news. But the difference between living in Africa vs America, for instance, is that it is deeply entrenched in the way of life. You are more likely to receive criticism for refusing to give a bribe than you are if you do.
3. Technological infrastructure is still behind by a lot.
The extent to which you should be concerned about this varies from country to country. For instance, South Africa is further along than Uganda, Senegal, or even Nigeria. It is also true inside each country. You are more likely to find better infrastructure in capital cities than anywhere else.
Internet access and speed are still haphazardly distributed. Madagascar currently has the highest speed at 32mbps, more than the UK and Australia. But Mauritania? 1.47mbps, and some like Zimbabwe and Togo barely have internet access. It is essential to know this if you plan to move to Africa to work.
4. Healthcare system is still developing.
Sadly, despite recent economic developments, healthcare in Africa remains the worst in the world. I have been to hospitals with no windows or beds. Several of them had only a couple of doctors and nurses available to attend to hundreds of patients to treat all sorts of diseases.
Less prioritized conditions like mental illness receive even worse support. Thankfully, technological improvements mean you can access care online.
Of course, this is not representative of every hospital on the continent. A few of them are well equipped, with quality infrastructure and personnel. These hospitals, however, are quite expensive. So, make sure you save enough for this or get comprehensive insurance from your employer if you ever get paid to move to Africa.
5. The closest lifestyle to your home life costs a lot of money.
And yes, it doesn’t matter whether you are part of the lower, middle, or upper class in your old country. A typical example is internet data. Unlimited internet in Nigeria costs about 80% of the country’s minimum monthly wage. It is also only mostly available in cities like Lagos, Port Harcourt, and Abuja, which have a notoriously high cost of living. So why move back to Africa?
Well, it is an exciting place offering experiences you won’t get anywhere else in the world. Additionally, if you keep earning in foreign currency, the low exchange rates mean you get a lot more bang for your earnings.
6. Your most memorable experience lies outside your comfort zone. (learn the language)
Whether you want to move to Africa and be rich or experience life on the continent, truly experiencing Africa means embracing its chaos, drama, danger, and unpredictability. Muddy markets, drivers who routinely break traffic laws, delicious local meals in wooden restaurants and underground art scenes. The authentic experiences exist outside the things you are likely used to.
Additionally, for African Americans, living in Africa vs America might seem like trading down on a surface level. But I can tell you it is truly liberating. If you manage to learn the local language, you open yourself to a whole new world.
7. It is a religious continent.
If you move to Africa to work, one of the first things you will likely notice is the extent to which religion touches everything. Prayers kickstart meetings and end them, and Muslim employees leave their seats for prayers at mosques or dedicated prayer grounds.
Africa is a religious continent, with both major religions present in 91% of the population. Traditional faiths take up an additional 8%. Atheists are also in short supply. So if you are a woman moving to Africa without a husband, hoping for a non-religious man, you might struggle a bit.
Also, Africans are very ‘in your face’ when it comes to religion. I have had my sleep countless disturbed by the sound of sermons or calls to worship blaring out of loudspeakers. Most people get used to it. Others have no choice but to cough up expensive amounts to live in areas with stringent public noise rules.
8. Still working the kinks on sexual and gender diversity
Admittedly, some countries are improving when it comes to sexual and gender diversity. However, for the most part, life in Africa is hard for gays, lesbians, and transgender people. Only South Africa and Cape Verde have constitutional laws that forbid discrimination against members of the LGBTQ community.
In several other countries, such as Somalia, Mauritania, and Nigeria, homosexuality is punishable by death. Sadly, there is a still lot of work to do in this regard, and it could take years for things to change significantly.
If you are gay and are moving to Africa without a husband or wife, you might not be able to do things like get married or go on public dates. However, there are underground communities and spaces on social media such as Reddit and Twitter, with people already here or moving to Africa soon.
9. The climate is a mixed bag.
Once you discount snowy winters, climate-wise, there might not be much difference when it comes to living in Africa vs America. North Africa, home to countries like Egypt, Tunisia, and Morocco, is quite hot, thanks to its proximity to the Sahara Desert.
In Sub-Saharan Africa, the region of popular destinations like Nigeria, Ghana, and South Africa, the climate ranges from mildly hot to cold. However, the continent’s closeness to the equator makes it vulnerable to climate change impacts, throwing predictability out the window.
And considering most African houses are not designed to handle the worst of this change, you will need to invest in air conditioners and humidifiers.
10. Plenty of opportunities for entrepreneurship.
Having said all of this, why move back to Africa? Because it has plenty of opportunities for entrepreneurship, for one. You have probably heard of phrases like “move to Africa and be rich” or ‘get paid to move to Africa.” Promoters of these might be scammers, but there is truth to the overall idea. The continent is in one of its prime development phases, and thus, open to investments in various forms.
The massive population also means much human capital, and vast lands offer plenty of space for industrialization. As I have mentioned earlier, you will have to overcome bureaucratic obstacles like bribery and redundancies, but the opportunities are real. So, if you are wondering why move back to Africa, this is a great reason to.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Africa safe?
Yes, Africa is, for the most part, safe. Sure, some places have political and ethnic conflicts, but a large part of the continent is safe from significant unrest. Whether you want to move to Africa to work or retire, most regions are safe for living.
What’s the safest country in Africa?
Because there are different criteria, answers might vary. However, a large consensus considers Rwanda the safest country in Africa. Other noteworthy countries include South Africa, Namibia, Mauritius, Seychelles, Morocco, Botswana, Kenya, and Swaziland (Eswatini). If you are also looking to move to Africa and be rich, Rwanda is the safest place for business.
Why did Africans move to the US?
Mostly labour opportunities. The underdevelopment in many African countries led millions of educated individuals to relocate for better-paying jobs and quality of life. However, the continent is developing, and thousands now get paid to move to Africa.
Where is the country of Ghana?
Ghana is in Western Africa, bordered by Ivory Coast in the west, Burkina Faso in the north, Togo in the east, and the Atlantic Ocean in the south. She has about 30 million people, a growing economy, and has major cities like Accra, Kumasi, and Tamale.
Is Ghana giving free land?
No, Ghana is not giving free land. However, its government has earmarked acres of land for African Americans and Africans in the diaspora at discounted prices. It is part of the Year of the Return program to spur relocation to the country. You can think of it as one way to get paid to move to Africa.
What countries in Africa are at war?
South Sudan, Uganda, Cameroon, Chad, Nigeria, and the Democratic Republic of Congo are some of the African countries at war. Several of them have been going on for decades. Most of them are caused by a host of issues, such as ethnic or political differences and limited resources.