South African expats eager to come back: study

South African expats believe their skills and knowledge would be useful and valuable to the country with many eager on exploring ways to return, according to a new report.

South Africa’s talent migration abroad has created a valuable knowledge network and an untapped asset base that can further the competitiveness of the country, reports The SABLE Accelerator, a global group of South African expats advancing commercial innovation and exchange with their home country.

SABLE (South African Business Link to Experts) is based in Silicon Valley.

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

It found that 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, and 48% say they would be interested in learning more about incentives to relocate back to South Africa.

The study included 957 participants from 22 countries, with some 40% (387) residing abroad.

Countries where Old Rhodian survey respondents are living include South Africa, USA, Canada, England, Scotland, Ireland, Germany, Italy, Greece, Switzerland, New Zealand, Australia, Hong Kong/China, Bermuda, India, Kenya, Zambia, Botswana, Malawi, Namibia and Zimbabwe.

Key findings from the survey on international Rhodes University graduates showed 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;
  • 40% 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 strong emotional and cultural attachment and 51% retain affinity and connections;
  • 36% of Old Rhodians based 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 offshore Old Rhodians to stay connected to news and developments in South Africa; other important sources include Internet web sites (68%), international media (47%), and social media groups (41%).

“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 (South African Business Link to Experts), and chairman of the Rhodes University Trust USA.

“These stand-outs in many fields of endeavor are willing and eager to give back to the country. They just need to be invited, engaged, and recognized through a formal process of interaction.”

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