African countries are not always top of mind for would-be expats, mainly due to security concerns, but new research show that many are satisfied with their jobs and career prospects.

Senegal and Nigeria are high on the list for job satisfaction and personal finance according to the survey findings, with the majority of expats thriving in Africa’s biggest economies.


Indeed, the research from InterNations found that 12% of expats are well paid, earning US$250,000 a year compared with just 3% of expats globally with this level of earning power.

Also, almost 80% of expats living in Senegal rated their career prospects positively, some 20% higher than expats worldwide, and 69% said job satisfaction was high. The country takes the top spot for expats in the region.

Nigeria comes second with 74% of respondents in the country saying they are satisfied with their job and 64% happy with their career prospects. In Kenya, 60% were positive about their job prospects and 70% satisfied with their employment.

Many expats moved to Africa for work related reasons, some 63% of those in Nigeria and 58% in Kenya. This is much higher than the global average of 36%. The research also shows that 26% found a job on their own in Nigeria and 25% in Kenya, again higher than the global average of 16%.

InterNations ambassador in Nigeria Hashim Zein believes that Africa poses very interesting opportunities for expats. ‘There is a dearth of specialized experience due to previous brain drains and the relatively rapid development in the continent,’ he said.

In Nigeria some 12% of expats work in telecommunications, 13% in construction, 15% in manufacturing and consumer goods and 12% in transportation, warehousing and logistics. Meanwhile in Kenya, 12% work in tourism, travel, accommodation and food services, 10% in financial service, real estate and insurance and 13% in manufacturing and consumer goods. In Senegal 15% are in manufacturing and consumer goods, 13% in business services, professional consultancy and coaching next and 10% in telecommunications.

Between 60% and 70% of respondents in these countries work for international companies while Nigeria and Kenya show high percentages of expats working in top management positions at 46% and 29% respectively. This is significantly higher than the global average of 12%.

The research also shows that 12% of respondents in Nigeria have an annual income of over US$250,000. The next highest percentage of high earners in Africa is in Egypt with 5%. This compares with a global figure of 3% earning such a high amount.

According to Zein, a perceived risk on the continent is one reason for higher salaries, with housing and transportation in countries such as Nigeria also pushing up living costs.

However, expats in Africa tend to work longer hours. In Nigeria, the average hours per week worked is 48.2, followed by Ghana at 47.8, while expats in Senegal and Kenya say their work over 44 hours per week, but despite this they still rate their work-life balance positively.