August 6, 2015

Relocation Challenges in Africa

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Relocation Challenges in Africa

In terms of global mobility, Africa is often approached as a single destination; but with 54 different countries, each location presents its own set of challenges for international assignees. Respondents to Cartus’ Biggest Challenges Survey named Africa the most challenging region for managing relocation programmes, citing safety and security, moving into areas of limited infrastructure, and transportation as the top three challenges. At a recent Cartus eLearning webinar we took a look at some of the region’s country-specific issues:

Safety and Security

As is evident from our Biggest Challenges survey results, security can be a region-wide challenge, but organisations should still have a contingency plan to meet each African country’s individual security issues, whether it’s carjackings in South African cities, terrorist threats in parts of Kenya, or political unrest in Egypt. Another consideration is to allay fears before the assignee moves. If you have a family moving to Nigeria, for example, let them know that it is typical for hotels to have an armed guard on each floor and that this does not represent an immediate security risk.

Moving into Areas of Limited Infrastructure

The widely recognised concept of ‘Africa time’, where things take a little longer, means that greater levels of planning are required. In Kenya, air shipments can take three to four weeks and sea shipments may take up to three months, if not longer, depending on the cargo’s origin. Assignees therefore need to ensure that they consider travel times, plan around lease start dates, and remember that goods can clear customs only after Kenya’s immigration department has issued the assignee a personal identification number. In Angola, surface shipments take much longer than air shipments to clear customs, although the latter is more expensive. This can often be frustrating for assignees and may delay key projects for organisations, so significant advance planning is needed.


For those searching for a home in Ghana, there is a Bank of Ghana directive that requires rental payments to be paid in local currency, Ghanaian Cedi. Nigerian landlords typically use their own rental leases and demand 12 months of rent before the assignee can move into the accommodation. As the rental market in Nigeria favours the landlord, short-term leases are scarce. Organisations should also consider the rental increase at the time of lease renewal. Annual increases in Nigeria can be between 5% and 12%, with tenants also expected to pay agent’s fees. Similarly in Egypt, it is standard practice for rental rates to be increased by 5% each year.


Although Kenya has a good selection of international schools, it is important to know that the academic year runs from January to December and consists of eight years of primary school and four years of secondary school. Luanda, Angola, has only four international schools, none of which follow the British or American curricula, and they can have waiting lists of up to a year. If you have families moving to Angola, we recommend that you give your mobility provider more than 12 months’ notice, where possible.    

If you would like more information on relocation to Africa, listen to our eLearning recording, Challenges of Relocating Assignees to Africa. The eLearning looks at country-specific challenges and solutions for relocation to Egypt, South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana, and other countries in Africa. For additional information on moving to other locations around the world, including typical challenges faced by assignees and their families, view our On The Ground videos.

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