Opinion

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Expats in Africa earn most, but work world’s longest hours

Africa is home to the world’s highest number of expats making more than $250,000 (£160,000) annually, according to a global survey.
But foreign workers there work hard for their money – four out of 10 countries with the world’s longest working hours are in Africa.

Nigeria has the highest number of high-earning expats. A total of 12 per cent of households earn more than $250,000 per year, making it the top location for earnings, according to InterNations, a network for people who live and work abroad.
Russia and Kazakhstan fall in joint second place for earnings – 11 per cent of expat households fall into the $250,000-plus bracket. The global share of expatriates making that amount per year or more is just three per cent.

Nigeria is also home to the world’s longest expat working week, at 48.2 hours on average. Ghana follows with 47.8 hours. The global average working week for expats is 41 hours.

But foreigners don’t seem to mind the hard work. More than half of the InterNations survey respondents in Nigeria, Ghana, Senegal and Kenya rated their working hours and work-life balance positively.

High income expats (percentage of households earning more than $250,000)

Nigeria 12pc
Russia 11
Kazakhstan 11
Malaysia 9
Switzerland 9
(Global average: 3pc)

Clementine Wallop, a writer and consultant who lives in the Nigerian capital, Abuja, with her journalist husband, said: “Having a stint in Nigeria on your CV is a huge benefit. Living and working in Nigeria exposes you to opportunities and challenges you couldn’t dream of having in a city like London or New York. Life here is never dull and no two days are the same. This variety was one of our main motivations for moving from Singapore, where we lived previously.

“For most people who move here, the financial incentives are substantial. The vast majority of expats in Nigeria are on good pay and extremely attractive packages that can include employers taking care of housing, schooling, transport and health care. Some employers also offer R and R breaks and a certain number of flights home each year or a generous flight allowance.”

However, she added: “I am surprised to see that expats in Nigeria work the world’s longest weeks. I think perhaps it doesn’t feel that way because the working environment here involves a lot of face-to-face meetings and travel around the country, so even though the hours are long, it’s not as if everyone is strapped to a desk at a screen from dawn until dusk. Quite the opposite, given that one of the daily challenges in Nigeria is a lack of reliable electricity.”

Longest working hours worldwide – average hours per week

  1. Nigeria 48.2 hours
  2. Ghana 47.8
  3. United Arab Emirates 45.6
  4. Russia 45
  5. Kuwait 44.8

(Global average: 41 hours)

InterNations questioned 14,000 members in 169 countries about aspects of expat life for its survey. One in six of the organisation’s 1.6 million members worldwide lives in Africa.

Hashim Zein, an InterNations ambassador in Nigeria, said: “The perceived risk on the [African] continent makes ‘risk pay’ an additional source of income.”

But he added: “Africa poses very interesting opportunities for expats; there is a dearth of specialised experience due to previous brain drains and the relatively rapid development in the continent.”

Expatriates in the West African country Senegal are happiest with their local career prospects and have high job satisfaction. A significant 78 per cent of expatriates there rated their career prospects positively, compared with 58 per cent of expats worldwide who feel the same.

Job satisfaction in Senegal is also impressive, with 69 per cent responding positively. Nigeria follows in the third spot, with 74 per cent stating that they are satisfied with their job and 64 per cent rating their career prospects positively.

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