Ever had to unscrew something and you don’t have the right fitting alan key or a star screw driver for a screw that requires a Phillips? Getting the job done requires the right tools and knowing how to use those tools is essential to get the job done. This is a frustration being felt by many companies that want to use local resources in Africa but the skill set doesn’t exist. Expats are operating in Africa more than on any other continent. This is not because companies would rather employ a European or Asian person, but are rather forced into employing expats as the local skills are not yet developed to a suitable level. Training facilities do not exist or are not as well equipped as established entities in developed countries may be.
When a mining giant enters a new community, the expectation of large amounts of employment are always the key selling factor for locals who are suffering in poverty or lack of infrastructural development. The want for a better life and to be of value is always the vocation of the locals who seek to create better opportunities to the generations following them.
The sad reality is that the skills are not being developed at the rate which will benefit the current generation. Learnership programs are being implemented and companies such as Vale, who are trying to employ locals and develop their skill sets, require too many skilled professionals to hold off on current operations to wait for locals to develop the required proficiencies.
Expat contractors’ capabilities are vital to the success and macro development of many African countries. The micro-economic impact has become less and less prevalent as fiscal advancements have caused major corruption amongst political figures in various African countries. The penetration of major organisations entering developing countries are done so with the intention to develop the country as a whole, the truth, unfortunately, is that the few that do prosper, are already living a life of prosperity, where the few who would benefit from the growth the most, are relocated or left to face harsher conditions as the government entertains guests and leave the natives to their own demise.