Talent in Ghana

Imported Photos 00033 Author:
Yendor Felgate –  Emergence Consulting

The traditional wisdom on Africa is that there is a one way passage for talent to more ‘developed markets’. Experience suggests that a continuous ‘brain drain’ is occurring, where talented professionals are being ‘denuded’ from home markets, exacerbating an already tenuous scarce skill situation.

Change is Coming

Recently I hosted a talent management workshop in Ghana, where I am starting to see signs that things may be changing.  This is not say that the ‘war for scarce skills’ does not exist or that the predominant trend has changed, but rather we are seeing a more complex picture emerging.

The change may have started even before the impetus of the global financial services meltdown, if anecdotal evidence from headhunters and resourcing specialists working in Africa are accurate.  Ghana may be a useful case in point to begin to understand the emerging changes in talent behaviour and the resultant complexities for business in Africa.

Recent Trends

Ghana is a democratic West African country that has been independent for over 50 years.  Traditionally the country has been economically reliant on commodities and natural resources, though is diversifying rapidly into financial services and telecoms.  Recent trends suggest an increasing level of foreign direct investment and interest from the region in the opportunities offerred by Ghana.

In the past, global education and career opportunities were valued over local organisations and career paths.  The first change to this dynamic was the rapid expansion of Nigerian banks and the telecom revolution in Ghana. Both sectors are large consumers of talent and ‘overheated’ the local and expatriate skill markets, largely by paying aggressively.

The second major trend is the exciting opportunities for entrepreneurs.  This has attracted interested from first and second generation Ghanians based outside the country.  Initially, this took the form of direct investment, but is increasingly involving Ghanians leaving corporate roles outside Ghana, to take up local opportunties.

The final trend is the global instability in ‘developed’ job markets, where many Ghanians are now looking to return to corporate and professional roles within the country.  The perceived ‘gap’ between global and local has diminshed significantly.

The net result is that many corporates in Ghana are able to compete for talent more effectively than before. I think this is the real change – global players may now not be the automatic default choice for African talent. African business has a window of opportunity they can exploit. However, the complexity lies in the detail.

The challenge is that good people have many opportunities both locally and regionally they can explore in corporates and on the entrepreneurial front. My sense is that this has less to do with money, but the personal connection people make to these opportunities.  In my language, an holistic employee value proposition is more important the ever.

What About Pay Levels?

Ghana Pay Ranges

Total Compensation in Ghana

Pay levels amongst leading employers in Ghana are competitive, but relatively low when compared to more developed countries, and also to many countries in Africa.  As you can see from the illustration, total annual compensation in Cedi ranges from about 5,000 to 20,000 Cedi for support staff positions, while pay for professionals varies from approximately 24,000 to 80,000 Cedi.

Source:
Birches Group LLC Survey of Leading Employers – September, 2008

In Summary

The difficulty most Ghanian businesses face is that they are not used to working with the intangible concept of the employee value proposition and tend to want to compete on remuneration, whilst keeping relatively conservative management practices.  This is changing, but I hope it is sufficiently rapid to fully utilise what may be a very narrow period of talent parity.

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4 responses to “Talent in Ghana

  1. Kwaku Agyeman

    Yendor,
    I quite like your article. It is an excellent reflection of some of my own thoughts and the thoughts of others on the growing opportunities in Africa.
    I was wondering when you conducted the talent management workshop and for whom. Also, I would like to hear your perspective on how the recent change of government may affect this new phenomenon of reverse brain-drain.

    • Hi

      I agree there is definitely a change in the way Africa is perceived, long may it continue. I ran the talent workshop in Accra at the end of April this year. It was an open programme in conjunction with Bizliteracy, a training company based in Ghana.

      In terms of your question regarding government, I am not sufficiently close to any of the debates to comment, outside that it is probably too soon to judge.

      Regards
      Yendor

  2. Menser Centsil

    Yendor,

    This is an encouraging article. Can you tell me little more about the organization Bizliteracy? I am in my final year at theTexas A&M HR Graduate program. I am from Ghana and will love to go back home to contribute to the field of HR and business in general. Thanks for a wonderful article on Ghana. I will also like to know more about your company and all the work you do if you dont mind sharing. Thank you.–Menser

    • Hi Menser

      Thank you for your kind words. Bizliteracy is a training company based in Accra. Their primary focus is on corporate training, but for more information you can have a look at their webpage: http://www.bizliteracy.com/

      My company is called Emergence Consulting (www.emergenceconsulting.co.za). We work in four main areas: resourcing, consulting, training and coaching. Our main geography is Africa and the Middle East

      Happy hunting
      Regards
      Yendor