Africa Compensation Update – 2010

Warren Heaps – Birches Group LLC

Back in April of 2009, I published a post entitled “A Glimpse of Pay and Benefits in Africa.”  A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure to speak at an International Compensation and Benefits meeting in Houston, Texas, hosted by the National Foreign Trade Council, where my topic was also focused on Africa in general, and some information about pay practices there.  I thought it would be nice to share some highlights here.

Africa is Growing
I started the discussion in Houston by sharing some interesting statistics about Africa.  For example, did you know…

  • In 2008, the collective GDP across all of Africa was $1.6 trillion, roughly equal to that of Brazil or Russia?
  • GDP growth between 2000 and 2008 averaged 4.9%?
  • Since 2000, there have been about 316 million mobile phone subscribers added in Africa?
  • There are 52 cities in Africa with more than one million inhabitants?  By 2030, it’s predicted that over half of all Africans will live in cities.
  • Inflation is under control in Africa, averaging about 8% in 2009?  It’s expected that only 6 countries will have double-digit inflation by the end of this year, compared to 27 at the end of 2008.

There are simply huge opportunities for growth of business throughout the region.  Many large multi-national companies are opening businesses for the first time, seeking to tap into the growth across all industries.  African companies are themselves expanding into multiple countries on the continent and overseas, as highlighted in this recent report from the Boston Consulting Group, The African Challengers: Global Competitors Emerge from the Overlooked Continent. Foreign direct investment is up, and coming from not only the usual sources, but also in large amounts from China, India and other developing nations.

Compensation & Benefits in Africa
Birches Group recently compiled some comparative information for all of the African markets.  Based on surveys conducted by our firm, we examined the prevailing compensation packages for local national staff in a Senior Working Professional Level role, with titles such as:

  • Sr. Accountant
  • HR Specialist
  • Brand Manager
  • IT Operations Specialist
  • Administrative Services Specialist
  • Engineer
  • AVP (Banking)
  • Programme Officer

We found a wide range of total compensation, from over $115,000 (US equivalent) in Congo (Brazzaville) to just $23,600 (US equivalent) in Seychelles.  The median value was $62,650 in Tanzania.

The top ten highest values were in the following countries:

  1. Congo (Brazzaville)
  2. Central African Republic
  3. Gabon
  4. Nigeria
  5. South Africa
  6. Equatorial Guinea
  7. Cote d’Ivoire
  8. Morocco
  9. Angola
  10. Botswana

The bottom ten countries were:

  1. Eritrea
  2. Rwanda
  3. Sao Tome
  4. Sierra Leone
  5. Burundi
  6. Ghana
  7. Madagascar
  8. Ethiopia
  9. Gambia
  10. Seychelles

To see the full graph will all the countries, click here:  Africa Total Comp by Country.

Over-Base Compensation is Important
In Africa, there are widespread examples of compensation elements that are additive to base salary.  The practices vary widely from country to country, and the impact ranges from as little as 4.7% of total compensation in Mozambique to over 35% of total compensation in Nigeria.  Typical allowances include cash payments for 13th and 14th month; transport; food; mobile phones; and vacation.  In-kind benefits include subsidized loans; company cars; recreation facilities; and more.

The graph below shows the data for selected countries can be found here:  Overbase Comp in Africa.

In Summary
By now, I hope you are curious to know more about compensation and benefits practices in Africa.   There is a lot more information available by checking out the full presentation, Africa Local Compensation.  Be sure to post your comments and questions!

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