Emigration South Africa

Photo: Unsplash

Emigration: Here’s how many South Africans are leaving the country ‘for good’

The impact of load shedding and fears over personal safety dominate the concerns of many SA expats – and our emigration figures are still rising sharply.

Emigration South Africa

Photo: Unsplash

Experts are warning of a possible brain drain in the years ahead for South Africa, as the tide of emigration continues throughout lockdown. Although fears about losing our best and brightest citizens have always been prevalent, the loss of skilled workers at a time where the economy needs rebuilding does not bode well for this country.

How many people are leaving South Africa each year?

South Africans are continuing to seek pastures new, and in the past year, not even a global pandemic has eased our emigration figures. Thousands of SA citizens are saying goodbye to the Rainbow Nation, and according to James Formby – the Rand Merchant Bank CEO – the ‘usual suspects’ are driving people to go and set-up shop overseas.

Formby, in discussion with CapeTalk’s Bruce Whitfield this week, highlighted that the loss of civil engineers and the disgruntled attitudes of senior medical professionals could leave South Africa lacking in some vital industries:

  • – Around 23,000 people are leaving South Africa each year, but anecdotal evidence from Rand Merchant Bank claims the real figure is higher.
  • – At least 90 000 – 100 000 SA citizens have left the country on a permanent basis since 2016.
  • – It’s estimated that 1.7% of South African civil engineers have left the country ‘in the last three to four years’.
  • – A recent survey of healthcare professionals SA found that 38% of all medical staff ‘would consider leaving the country‘ if National Health Insurance (NHI) plans were fully rolled out.

Emigration ‘happening at a rapid pace’

Formby also revealed that most South Africans are, according to the bank’s research, more motivated to LEAVE Mzansi than they are to GO anywhere else. He has implored the government to pull out all the stops to curb the rise in emigration:

“South Africans tend to move not necessarily because they feel the opportunity is better elsewhere – it’s just that they’re terrified of what’s happening in their own backyard. Load shedding, crime, and safety [are the primary concerns]. If we want an infrastructure-led recovery in this economy, it’s critical to make sure that we stem this tide of emigration.”

James Formby, CEO of Rand Merchant Bank