Sable: Expats waiting to come home

Cape Town - There's a huge pool of global South African talent just waiting to be tapped, with many expats interested in coming back home.

This is because the country's talent migration abroad has created a valuable knowledge network and a latent asset base that can boost South Africa's competitiveness.

So states a report by the South African Business Link to Experts (Sable) Accelerator, a Silicon Valley-based global group of South African expats who advance commercial innovation and exchange for their home country.

“There is a massive pool of predisposed South African expatriate talent waiting to be tapped globally,” said Donovan Neale-May, managing partner of the Sable Accelerator and chairperson of the Rhodes University Trust USA.

“These standouts in many fields of endeavour are willing and eager to give back to the country. They just need to be invited, engaged and recognised through a formal process of interaction.”

Many of South Africa’s best and brightest university graduates have left the country during the past 40 years to gain career experience, influential contacts and prominent positions.

But this brain drain could actually translate to significant “brain gain” both in SA and abroad, according to a global alumni survey by Rhodes University.

A sizeable 72% of Old Rhodian expats living in more than 20 overseas countries believe their skills and knowledge would be useful and valuable to South Africa.

Of these, 48% said they would be interested in learning more about incentives to relocate back to South Africa.

Rhodes University conducted a comprehensive online survey of its alumni in May 2013 with the help of international marketing firm GlobalFluency and the Sable Accelerator.

The survey assessed the input of 957 participants from 22 countries, of whom 40% (387) currently live abroad.

Besides South Africa, Old Rhodian survey respondents live in the US, Canada, England, Scotland, Ireland, Germany, Italy, Greece, Switzerland, New Zealand, Australia, Hong Kong/China, Bermuda, India, Kenya, Zambia, Botswana, Malawi, Namibia and Zimbabwe.

What the suvey found

Key findings from the survey show that:

• While 90% of Old Rhodians living abroad are satisfied with their lifestyle or professional position overseas, 32% would consider returning to or retiring in South Africa, and 28% are undecided.

• Forty percent of Old Rhodians living abroad consider themselves ambassadors and champions of the new South Africa, and 33% visit South Africa more than once a year.

• The majority of these global South Africans still identify with their home country; 36% say they have a strong emotional and cultural attachment, and 51% retain affinity and connections.

• Thirty-six percent of Old Rhodians living abroad view transformation in South Africa positively compared to 24% who view it negatively; 34% are neutral.

• Friends and family remain the primary way for 81% of expat Old Rhodians to stay connected to news and developments in South Africa. Other important sources include internet websites (68%), international media (47%), and social media groups (41%).

 - Fin24

Are you an expat and if yes, would you be prepared to return to South Africa?

* Tell us your story
* Write a guest post

Read more on: economy expats
Marina Millicent Poniatowska 2013/07/16 04:15:24 PM
I would love to know how these statistics are put together. Of the 5 couples (friends we made while being abroad) that went back to SA 4 years ago, there's only one couple left, and they are leaving for Aus next year. All of us left within two years of going back "home". We realized extremely quickly SA is not "home" anymore. I will never go back.
Tom Hudson 2013/07/16 04:24:51 PM
They are wasting their time, there is a very large number of highly skilled people that are unemployed in SA due to the colour of their skin.
Freddie Miller 2013/07/16 04:26:27 PM
The expats are homesick until they return and are faced with AA, BEE and the taxis on our roads. I personally know of at least 10 graduate expats that returned to SA and all went back overseas within 6 months due to the above factors. Note that all had good jobs in SA, but could not work with AA candidates in the work environment. It is so strange to them and an inconvenience they were not prepared to put up with. They are used to working with qualified candidates only.
Jeremy Forbes 2013/07/16 04:27:12 PM
Opportunities are now in Africa, middle class growth has been phenomenal over the past five years, hence companies are looking for ways to get their high end consumer goods to these populations. Websites helping SA's to return home have seen more than 100% increase in traffic and inquiries. Obama did not come to SA because he needed a holiday, Americans know that SA is the key to economic development in Africa.
merryck.webb 2013/07/16 04:33:40 PM
You have missed the boat, Mr/Miss Scribe. The brain drain as you called it were mostly white intelectuals who were no longer wanted at parastatals, Armscor, et al. So they moved to get employment. Why would the come back? And too what, AA, BEE, BBBEE is going to block them at all stops. And away they will go again.
Andre Bosch 2013/07/16 04:38:57 PM
Well not this one. Not until I retire. If I can get paid what I do now, but in RSA then yes.
Gert Van Wyk 2013/07/16 04:40:47 PM
Stay where you are this corrupt government is not looking for skills but appointments for votes to keep the scum in power
Danie 2013/07/16 04:41:30 PM
The top cop in the UK and I think Aus was ex SA constables , left SA because they could not advance . We rather had a few criminals in a row as chief of SA SAPD. But at least they where well qualified , they where black, integrity , honesty, hard workers , good ,managers , not needed , black the only requirement.
Richard Scully 2013/07/16 04:52:14 PM
I came "home" but am leaving again
Rob Allen 2013/07/16 05:47:24 PM
why so they and their families have to be discriminated against by BEE? not gonna happen