Africa has great talents in different fields of life: medicine, engineering, education, finance, etc. After spending five years working in human resources space across Africa, one thing is obvious, African talents are poorly remunerated. Even the multinationals appear to value technicians from Asian and other continents with huge financial rewards compared to African executives. Senior managers and sometimes executives are paid just a fraction of the local currency equivalent of the monthly salary of these expatriates. No wonder, some are reluctant to leave Africa for their home country even when their current contract expires. They fight to have our jobs. Being escorted by police and soldiers while our people are denied a fair share for their efforts. The small percentage of the local talents that appears to be in the high pay bracket of most organizations are still poorly paid relative to their foreign colleagues. Why is this inequitable treatment?
AFRICAN TALENTS AND THEIR FOREIGN COUNTERPARTS
It does appear sometimes that we are sold out by our own government. When the average pay in a country is far below the poverty line and the unemployment rate is to the roof, what do you expect? Our African talents are seemingly conditioned to joyfully accept whatever is offered to them though is far below what their counterparts in Europe and America are being paid for a similar role in the same organization. Yes, one could argue that the environment is not the same, what about when these expatriates are engaged to work in Africa and the premium of leaving their home countries is like 1000% in remuneration compared to the local employee working in the same or similar capacity. Are African talents inferior to their foreign counterparts? Do we lack the relevant skills and education that these folks from Europe, India, and other Asia countries possess?
DO AFRICA TALENTS KNOW WHAT THEY ARE WORTH?
Today, I still believe that talents are very scarce in Africa. Those who are privileged to possess these skills that employers are looking for should be richly rewarded without any sentiment. My experience and interactions with many great talents in many African countries appear to relate more to not knowing their worth. During commercial negotiations at the interview stage, many candidates desperately sold out their worth and the employers sometimes take advantage. What a pity?
Graciously, we still have some organizations with great value and culture. I remember a situation of a young talent that was engaged by one of the foremost multinationals in the IT space. During the interview, his expectation was an N150,000 gross monthly salary (about $416 as of then) but the company offered him a monthly net salary of about N750,000 ($2,083). The HR manager maintained that was the company standard rate at that entry level.
FAIR COMPENSATION FOR AFRICAN TALENTS
We have great talents in Africa, and they need to be fairly treated and well-compensated for their efforts. Even when they seem not to know their worth, companies should have a fair package and standard salary range for employees of different categories. How do you motivate an employee who takes up employment and discover that her remuneration is 40% below what others at her level take home? Do you call that power of individual negotiations? That is called, poor human resources management which demotivates and sometimes leads to high staff turnover.
Employers of labor should develop a fair remuneration package. This would help to motivate and increase the employee retention rate for sustainable business growth.
Joshua Adeyemi (EMBA27)