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Five huge effects that mass emigration is having on South Africa

Those who can move away, do. Emigration is becoming a viable option for those who are able to afford it, and there are consequences for SA.

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A lot of people who are able to leave South Africa end up taking their opportunities. But what effect does emigration have on the country our citizens are leaving behind?

According to experts operating within this field, South Africans are expected to break emigration records in 2018 – the amount of Saffas living permanently abroad is expected to reach one million by the end of the year. But what does it all mean for Mzansi, and what impact is it having on those of us who stay?

What emigration means for South Africa:

A skills brain drain

Financial Emigration Manager Jonty Leon recently discussed the sharp spike in the number of South Africans looking to relocate abroad. He explained that a large number of those leaving the country are our highest paid and best educated.

“We’re losing doctors, engineers, our finance industry, our lawyers – it’s all the higher-earners or higher taxpayers from South Africa’s point of view.” – Jonty Leon.

Leon also explained that people emigrating to South Africa aren’t bringing the skills-sets needed to replace those at the very top of their professions. A brain drain isn’t just a buzzword, it’s something very real in SA.

Doctors and medical professionals could soon leave

With doctors already a scarce resource in South Africa, the proposed National Health Insurance (NHI) legislation could see a large number of medical professionals skip the country.

Profmed Officer Graham Anderson has expressed that the bill – which would cap fees that doctors charge for private healthcare – would eventually lead to our medical professionals ditching South Africa, given that the government is ready to “trash the private sector to save the public one”.

“If they are going to trash the private sector in order to get the public sector up and running, doctors are going to go. If the doctors emigrate then other professionals, who can afford to leave, will go because they want healthcare for their children.” – Graham Anderson.

More South Africans are now in the UK and Australia

With South Africans leaving in their droves, they’ve gotta end up somewhere. The UK seems to be taking the bulk of our 900 000 confirmed emigres, with 210 000 setting up their life in Blighty. That’s closely followed by Australia, as 190 000 Saffas have chosen to take the plunge down under.

According to a report published by Pew Research, the USA (100 000), Canada (60 000) and New Zealand
(50 000) complete the top five destinations of choice.

The property market is seeing some changing patterns

It’s now estimated – by FNB – that 7.4% of South Africans are selling their homes with the sole purpose of emigrating. This is the highest number since 2010. However, it still has some way to go to match the levels seen in 2008, when more than 20% of sellers were heading overseas.

We’re losing our wealthiest citizens

As BusinessTech reported back in March, South Africa lost almost a quarter of its super-wealthy individuals – those who have a net worth of over $5 million – in the last five years, dropping from 13 380 in 2012, to just 10 350 in 2017.

Many rich South Africans tend to move their money abroad and invest it elsewhere. No direct reason was given by the Frank Knight Wealth Report, but the rand’s volatility often influences their thinking.