THE number of international immigrants of African origin is projected to reach 80 million by the year 2030.
In a recent PEW survey, of the 12 countries surveyed from five different continents, Nigerians ranked highest among people who desperately want to relocate to another country in search of a better life, a process now popularly referred to as ‘japa’.
Many Nigerians have set relocation from the country, as a top priority in their goals for 2023 and the poor standard of living, rising insecurity and economic uncertainties that loom over the country preparing for its general elections, change in government and drastic reform measures such as fuel subsidy removal, all in one year, are some of the main reasons behind the decision to japa.
A 2022 report by the European Union Institute for Security Studies revealed that the number of African migrants living outside their country of origin was around 41 million, with the majority 21 million of them living in another African country, while 11 million (56.4 per cent), five million (25.6 per cent) and three million (15.4 per cent) reside in Europe, Asia and North America respectively.
The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) also noted that increasing restrictive policies in traditional destinations such as Europe and new opportunities in emerging economies and trade routes, have led to greater diversification of travel destinations for Africans to countries such as Turkey, China and South Africa for business, trade, study and employment.
Today, millions of ethnic Nigerians live abroad and the largest communities can be found in the United Kingdom’ (500,000–3,000,000) and the United States (600,000–1,000,000 Nigerians). Other top destination countries include Canada, Germany, South Africa and The Gambia.
More alternative migration destinations offer more opportunities for work, income, business and remittances to families back home, which in turn help to boost African economies.
Routes Nigeria use for relocation
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The five easiest routes for relocation used by Nigerians are a. study, b. work, c. marriage, d. application for permanent residency and e. asylum, but irrespective of the route one chooses to take, here are ten things you should do before you japa in 2023:
Find out the requirements of your prospective country:
Before deciding to relocate from Nigeria, it is important to find out what the visa requirements are for working.
Many Nigerians move abroad expecting to step straight into a similar job they had at home and then express surprise when they are unable to work due to visa restrictions, which can lead to frustration and depression.
Also find out what the requirements are for driving, studying and traveling. Sometimes depending on your visa, you might have restrictions on where and when you are permitted to travel.
Organise your documents:
Many Nigerians have been denied visas by foreign embassies for simply failing to organise their documents, including photographs, information about family members and employers, criminal history, information about where they live, financial background and medical examinations. Also make copies of all important documents.
Research your destination
Read up on the country’s weather, and etiquette norms, understand the actions that may offend locals so you can avoid doing them, learn how to greet people and how to share a meal, and be courteous.
Learn a skill
Basic services like hair making, barbing, tailoring and bead-making cost a fortune abroad and acquiring any of these skills can easily guarantee a source of income as you settle in and find your feet in your new country.
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Loneliness and depression are major complaints from Nigerians abroad and you should ensure that you save up contacts of relatives and friends abroad before you relocate.
Photojournalist Fati Abubakar in a Twitter thread published in April 2022, said that despite attaining success and access to and everything you ever wanted, the crippling loneliness can make one sad and bored.
It will also help to stay in touch with people in your home country as you adjust to your new environment and make new friends.
Think about healthcare
Health care varies significantly around the world, and your access to a local system could depend on what kind of visa you hold. Before you relocate, find out what options you have for healthcare insurance and coverage.
Save as much money as you can
Relocation abroad has a list of associated costs, and it is best to plan ahead and start saving. Some of these costs include visa, passport renewal, flight tickets, overseas travel insurance, vaccinations and health checks, rent, possible furniture or other items you may need, and living costs to cover you for a period before you start working.
A Nigerian residing in Texas, USA, Williams Ogidan shared this advice on Linkedin: “I know Nigeria is hard at the moment and I am not against anybody struck by the japa syndrome. However, before you japa make sure you have money or have savings to keep you for at least six months. Don’t come here and begin to feel entitled to your own country men helping you”.
Get rid of unneeded items
Decluttering is among the smartest thing you can do before you relocate, to prune your belongings to only what is essential for a simpler and cheaper move. Items such as outdated or outgrown clothes, shoes, toys, games, books, souvenirs etc, that are still in good condition can be sold to save more money, given away to family and friends or donated to charity. It also means you will have less items – which require less space – to keep in storage if you intend to store your property.
Pack a survival box
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Also known as your essential box or open-first box, a survival box should contain all the items you are going to need on the day of your trip and the first couple of days after your relocation. This will ensure that you do not end up opening already sealed boxes in search of something you need or arrive at your destination without even the basic necessities for a refreshing shower and a good night’s sleep.
Have a goal in mind
Before leaving Nigeria, ask yourself what you would really like to get out of your experience abroad. Also, constantly reminding yourself why you chose to move abroad will help you make great decisions about how to spend your time and income overseas. It will also help you weather the hard and trying times.