Top story: African telecoms skills levels on the rise but still gaps in revenue assurance and logistics

Top Story

The rapid growth of the telecommunications sector (particularly of mobile operators) has been the impetus behind one of the most significant skills transfers that has taken place on the continent. Despite the continuous harping on the "brain drain", it appears that Africa is reaching the point where it is no longer recruiting widely outside of the continent and African managers themselves now have much needed opportunities to get international experience, writes Mapara Syed.

The progress the telecommunications industry has made across Africa over the past few years has been so substantial that the increasing number of telco personnel and experts from within the region has led to less foreign experts being hired within the region. This is the judgement of Jerome Perret, Managing Director of Delconsulting, a specialist recruitment agency that operates on a global scale and specialises in supplying people solutions to companies seeking telecom expertise, particularly in Africa and the Middle East.

“The market in Africa is such that there are now a lot of competent people there so local telecom companies are no longer looking abroad for engineers and consultants and so forth,” claimed Perret.

Before when there wasn’t such abundance in local telecom experts it was usual practice that these companies would have to recruit foreign personnel. “A person from Europe say will need to travel and then find accommodation, most likely of European standards, so the company needs to subsidise for this. Therefore, the budget considerations means that it makes more sense, now that the resources are available, to recruit a local consultant because they will be cheaper,” Perret explained. “An Egyptian and a Lebanese worker will cost the same when being recruited in Saudi Arabia, for instance. But an Egyptian being recruited in Egypt will cost less than a Lebanese being recruited there,” he added.

However, there are still areas within the industry that require foreign expertise. “For most parts of telecommunications Africa is pretty much developed so most skills are covered now by local personnel but there are some specialities that are not,” said Perret. “Revenue assurance has not yet developed and there are a shortage of experts in logistics in Nigeria and Algeria,” he added.

Nevertheless, as well as being employed within their own countries, Africans are now accumulating international experience with more and more African telecom experts going abroad for work. “Within Africa there are currently a lot of job opportunities in Algeria and Nigeria and also in the Middle East, the Emirates, Qatar and Saudi Arabia in specific,” said Perret. “There are job opportunities in Europe as well but there are still tough immigration laws for Africans there, although they are getting better in countries like the Netherlands,” he added.