SABC News - SA must do more to attract other Africans: Analyst :Wednesday 24 May 2017

SA must do more to attract other Africans: Analyst

Wednesday 24 May 2017 21:34

Mamaponya Motsai

Fellow Africans also contribute to the growth of the economy, to the skills pool and bring investment, no matter how small and they too must be treated respect.

Fellow Africans also contribute to the growth of the economy, to the skills pool and bring investment, no matter how small and they too must be treated respect.(SABC)

As competition mounts up between African countries for investments and skills one analyst says South Africa must do more to make the country attractive to other Africans.  

According to Stats SA, the number of temporary visas given to people from other African countries decreased from 54.9% in 2013 to 52.6% in 2014. This is in contrast to non-African countries where the number increased from 45.1% to 47.4% in the same time frame.  

The decrease in numbers of fellow Africans coming to the country means the loss of the skills and investments they bring with them.

Managing Director and Chief Immigration Specialist at Strategies Migration Services South Africa, Munya Nkomo says the decline from in the numbers was largely due to a change in immigration laws in 2014.  

“Between 2013 and 2014 that’s when the immigration laws changed, what you had in 2014 was a significantly different land scape in terms of immigration laws,” says Nkomo.

Even though the laws apply to everyone equally, they have a different effect on different parties. He says whereas those from Asian and Western countries generally have access to more resources and more money, the opposite is true for many Africans.  

Nkomo says even though the required amount of R5 million applies to everyone, the amount might not be too much for someone from USA, it could be too much to someone from Kenya for example.

“The many small and medium businesses in Africa would struggle to come up with that amount of money,” says Nkomo.

Access to money not only helps with visa requirements, but it also means those who have it can afford professional help.

“Access to money means you can approach a person to help you with the process. Even though the laws are simple, the process and implementation often needs professionals who know what to do,” says Nkomo.

But it is not only the laws that have led to a decrease in the number of Africans coming to South Africa.

Nkomo says the xenophobic attacks that have taken place in the country have left a bitter taste in the mouths of those from other African countries, particularly because the attacks have mainly targeted fellow Africans.

“Other Africans looking to come in to South Africa might think, ‘I might be attacked, my children might get attacked, is my business safe?’”

This Nkomo says gives other countries an advantage over South Africa as a desired destination for immigrants. He says countries like Mozambique, Zambia, Kenya and Nigeria are attracting increasingly expats and investors.

“There are a lot of African countries that are moving away from the typical narrative of poverty and war and they have billions of opportunity. People are waking up to the fact that there are other places in Africa where there is a lot of money to be made without the safety risk,” says Nkomo.

He says even if the quality of life is better in South Africa than other African countries, people are looking for money, not necessarily comfort.

Nkomo says South Africans need to understand that like other expats, fellow Africans also contribute to the growth of the economy, to the skills pool and bring investment, no matter how small and they too must be treated respect.

“Remove the connotation of foreigners "kwerekere"... they are people just like you and me. See and treat them as people who are contributing positively,” says Nkomo.

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