Expats in Africa – Important tips for living in Africa

Africa Introduction

Africa has become a very active continent for expatriates from around the world. Followed by Asia, Africa has the world’s second largest continent with about 30.3 million km including several surrounding islands. The continent of Africa has 54 independent countries, with an estimated total population of 1.1 billion. Surrounded by the Mediterranean Sea to the north, the Indian Ocean to the southeast, Africa hosts a large diversity of cultural traditions, natural beauty and languages. Africa can be divided into several general climate regions. Areas near the equator have a tropical rain forest climate, with high temperatures and seasonal heavy rain throughout the year. At the northern and southern parts of the continent are of subtropical climate. The number of expats in Africa is unclear, but it has been reported that there are an increasing number of Chinese expatriates in the continent due to the growing economic presence of Chinese companies in Africa. There is still a large presence of Western expats living and working in Africa.

Economy in Africa

Africa has abundant natural resources such as oil, gold and diamonds and many foreign mining companies are operating in various countries on the continent.  HR consultancy firm 24-7 has reported that after salaries for expats in Africa hit bottom in 2016, there will be new hiring in 2017 which should result in higher salaries for expatriates in the region. This is especially true in the mining sector, where Africa is believed to hold 90% of the world’s platinum and 50% of its gold. In the last ten years, Africa has an impressive 5% GDP growth. Expat Financial has several mining company clients in Africa employ large expatriate populations and require global benefit plans. Though prices for Africa’s commodities fell in 2015, decreased political instability guarantees the continued developments in Africa. The top three of largest economies in Africa are Nigeria, South Africa and Egypt. Oil and gas revenue have contributed significantly to the economy of many nations in Africa. Non-resource sectors in Africa are also making inroads, especially in the communications and banking sectors, which are also big expatriate employers.

Current Expat Working Environment in Africa

Expat assignments in Africa continue to focus on specialized industries such as oil, gold, diamonds and copper. According to a global survey, many expats working in Africa are making more than $250,000 annually. Based on InterNations‘ research, Nigeria has the highest number of high-earning expats. The overall labor environment has also been improving in recent years. Since 1994, some African governments started to take steps to secure and protect the rights of workers, and other labor friendly practices. However, government corruption at both local and national levels continues to be a major impediment to both the political and economic systems in many African countries. Political instability and civil strife in many nations in Africa is a constant concern for expatriates and their employers. It is important that companies employing expats obtain coverage that will cover war and terrorism risks.

Safety for Expats in Africa

It is widely known that many countries in Africa have serious safety concerns for expatriates and locals alike. Many countries in the continent have high crime rates and terrorism concerns, such as Nigeria, Chad and Zimbabwe. In fact, Kenya has experienced some horrific terrorist attacks in recent years, including the Westgate Mall attack in 2013. Other countries such as South Sudan are experiencing civil wars while DRC is in the midst of a political crisis that has lead to demonstrations and attacks. As an expatriate, you have to have a safety plan to avoid these civil disturbances and of course the usual crimes of opportunity such as muggings and pickpockets. Expats should remain vigilant and take steps to improve their safety, such as avoiding high crime areas at night, avoiding demonstrations and not wearing valuables or flashing cash. Probably the biggest concern for expats in Africa should be road accidents as local driving can be very dangerous on poorly run transportation systems. If you take adequate precautions and use your street smarts, you can enjoy residing in pretty much any African nation.

However, not all African countries are dangerous for expatriates. Many are quite safe for expatriates, including Morocco, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Botswana, Seychelles and Malawi. You don’t need to live in fear while residing in Africa. Be smart and take adequate precautions and enjoy the culture and local population who are keen to show you the wonders of Africa.

Health Risks in Africa for Expats

Though it has abundant natural resources, Africa remains the world’s most underdeveloped continent. Even though nations such as Nigeria, South Africa and Ghana are relatively wealthy, healthcare resources in cities and especially in remote areas can be very poor. Low standards of healthcare facilities and inadequate water sanitation have affected a large proportion of the African residents and are a concern for expats as well. The region’s health risks include malaria, dengue fever, ebola virus disease, tuberculosis and Hepatitis A and B. There also have been outbreaks of avian flu and Lassa virus, as well as HIV. Expats moving and traveling to Africa should carry water purification tablets, anti-diarrhea pills and alcohol based hand cleaning solutions along with updated vaccinations based on regional and country specific recommendations from the medical community.

International Health Insurance for Expats in Africa

It is critical that expats should include emergency medical evacuations in their international health insurance policy before moving to Africa. A typical international health insurance plan via Expat Financial will provide coverage options such as hospital coverageoutpatient treatment, medical emergency evacuation, routine health check-ups and dental & vision care.

Expats in Africa should also think about having adequate life cover, disability cover and accidental death coverage while residing in the continent. Expat health insurance premiums will vary depending on the coverage of the plan, your age, citizenship and several other factors.

Expat Financial  is extremely experienced in covering expatriate employees in Africa. We are able to source global benefit plans for groups of 2 or more expatriates in Africa and across most parts of the globe, If you have questions about our international medical insurance plans or you want to discuss your needs and produce a customized quote, please contact us or complete the quote form.

Obtain important information on the international insurance plans that are offered by Expat Financial to expatriates and some local nationals in the African region: expatfinancial.com/regions/africa/

expat healthcare if critical

Rapid growth in demand for private health insurance in China and its impact on expatriates

According to a recent Ernst & Young report, the market for private health insurance in China is increasing a rapid rate. Insurance premium revenue jumped from RMB 1.5 trillion in 2014 to RMB 2.4 trillion in 2015 and is projected to reach almost RMB 5 trillion in 2020. The increase in premiums must indicate that more and more people are seeking private health insurance to protect themselves from medical costs. Though the public healthcare system in China provides some basic coverage, it cannot meet the requirements of more affluent patients and especially most expatriates in China. In this article, we will discuss the rise of health and medical insurance in China and how it will impact expatriates and local nationals.

What Factors Drive Demand For Private Health Insurance In China?

The trend of a focus on well-being is increasing among the aging and wealthier Chinese population, according to the Ernst & Young report. It is widely known that the standard of public hospitals in China varies from city to city. Usually public hospitals in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou are better than those in municipal or rural areas – as you would expect. Therefore, most patients will prefer large reputable public hospitals in major cities if condition permits. With increased pressures, these larger public hospitals in major cities are becoming overcrowded with much longer waiting period and line-ups. This is causing difficulties for expatriates seeking medical care in some Chinese medical facilities.

We should also note that the medical costs can cause a financial burden to many Chinese and foreign patients. With a private expat health insurance plan, they can reimburse the prescription drug costs and supplement their public health insurance plans.

The increased focus on health issues, unsatisfactory public healthcare services,  increased medical expenditure, relaxed private health insurance regulation, etc are the factors that drive demand for private health insurance in China.

International Health Insurance For Expats Living And Working In China

Most expats living and working in China will prefer international health insurance over a local plan that is meant for local Chinese nationals. First of all, most foreigners are excluded from public heath insurance system. Second, even if you can access to local public health plan, you will still need to pay co-payments. The Chinese public health insurance system has little reimbursement for out-patient medical treatment fees. Thirdly, most expats staying in China prefer private hospital and clinics. These private medical facilities are equipped with foreign medical staff, English-speaking doctors and top standard of medical care. The decor of the private hospitals is also more welcoming for expats in China. Medical treatment at private medical facilities can cost much higher than at a public hospital in China. In fact, many insurers report that private hospitals are often more expensive than hospitals in the United States. With an international health insurance plan on hand, expats do not need to worry about the high medical expenditure and protect your financial security.

What Does International Health Insurance Cover? 

If you are living in China or planning to move there, an international health insurance plan can provide flexible and portable coverage along with world-wide service. It will not only let you select the hospital, but also medical providers and doctors. A typical international health insurance plan will provide coverage options such as hospital coverageoutpatient treatment, medical emergency evacuation, routine health check-ups, dental & vision care, life cover, disability cover and accidental death. Expat health insurance premiums will vary depending on the coverage of the plan, your age, citizenship and several other factors. Some plans may not cover pre-existing medical conditions or may be able to provide coverage for your previous medical condition depending on the medical underwriter’s decision.

Choose The Right International Health Insurance Broker for China

We are very experienced in covering expatriates in China. As an independent broker, we can be of assistance when it comes to choosing international health insurance in China. Expat Financial offers several different international health insurance plans for expatriates across most parts of the globe. We also offer excellent service before and after you purchase your international health insurance plan. If you have questions about our international medical insurance plans or you want to discuss your needs and produce a customized quote, please contact us or complete the quote form

Tips on becoming an expat entrepreneur

As an entrepreneur, can you imagine living abroad as an expat while running your business successfully? Starting a business is not easy, especially if you’re running one overseas. In this article, we will share a few tips on how to run a business while living as an expat before you decide to departure.

Know the local business environment

Most of the entrepreneurs are running a business with a local focus before traveling to a new country. Promoting your services or goods to local people can be difficult if you are unfamiliar with local business environment. It is a good idea to join local business networks even if you are running an online business. This way can help you to understand the culture and the local consumer, be that in Asia, Africa or around the world.

Researching online is another good way to guide you to meet the right partners and launch at the right conferences.

Start to learn the local language

Unlike traveling, running a business overseas requires participation in cultural experience every day. Learning the local language is a key step. Although it may sound like challenging, poor language skills are still better than none. Besides, speak the local language will help you meet your partner and customer better. Language skills are important when the market is not native to you. You should also network both locally and internationally. LinkedIn is a great resource for expats.

Get tax and legal advice before and after moving abroad to start your expat business

Local and global tax rules are extremely complex and it makes sense to talk to an expat tax professional that can fully appreciate your expat business plans and it will impact your bottom line. You may want to pick a country with the right tax rules and treaties that will allow you to flourish. Many expats choose jurisdictions with low tax rates. You should also inspect the country if possible first to see if it is a business friendly nation with favorable tax rates and rules. You should also talk to a legal adviser to make sure you are fully compliant with the local laws.

Manage your expat based business online

As an expat entrepreneur running an online business, you will need to mange your team, leads and make sales completely through smart phones or laptops. There are many great communication tools such as Skype, Slack and more to mange team and make sales online. Developing a balanced work and life style is important. Sometimes due to different time zones, you will need to adjust schedules to the clients’ time zone. One of the best things about the internet is that it has enabled the expat entrepreneur lifestyle.

Don’t forget international health insurance considerations for expats 

It is important to choose a quality expat health insurer when you live abroad for your global medical needs. Expat entrepreneurs have a diverse set of roles and can’t rely upon a group expat health plan provided by an employer. Expat Financial offers several different international health insurance plans for expatriates across most parts of the globe, even if you are working on your own or with a few other expat employees. If you have several other expat employees, we may be able to source a group plan that can offer better coverage, terms and premiums. If you have questions about our international medical insurance plans or you want to discuss your needs and produce a customized quote, please contact us or complete the quote form. Also don’t forget to obtain individual life and disability coverage.