Expatriates ‘still South African’

6 December 2005

The majority of South Africans living abroad remain connected to their home country in various ways and intend to return in the future, according to a survey commissioned by Homecoming Revolution.

The research, conducted by Research International, found that 46% of South Africans living abroad source local news on a daily basis, and that 77% have some form of investment in South Africa.

Over 1 000 South Africans living abroad were interviewed for the survey, with 81% saying they intend to return to SA in the future.

The research sample was made up exclusively of people with ready internet access. Although representing a diverse group, “this sample cannot be considered to be conclusively representative of the country’s population or of those South Africans abroad,” Research International noted.

Go to Homecoming Revolution Homecoming Revolution is a non-profit organisation, sponsored by First National Bank, that encourages and helps South Africans abroad to return to the country.

Homecoming Revolution MD Martine Schaffer said the findings were especially significant in the light of the recent message from the government that South Africa needed more skills to grow its economy.

Deputy President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka told the Sunday Times two weeks ago that the government was looking to recruit skilled white South Africans at home and abroad as part of its programme to boost economic growth to 6% of GDP by 2014.

Research findings
According to the Research International survey, South Africans living abroad are still very interested in what is going on in SA, with 46% sourcing news on SA on a daily basis and 18% sourcing such news at least two to three times a week.

Of those who took part in the survey, 77% still have some form of investment in South Africa: 69% have a bank account, 32% still own a house, and 29% still maintain their SA retirement annuity.

Eighty-one percent of those who participated in the survey intend to return to SA in the future – 35% because SA is “home / where they were born”, 34% because family and friends are still in SA.

One in three of these people say they aim to start their own business on their return. Sixty-nine percent of all respondents believe the entrepreneurial climate in SA has improved, while 33% believe there are many opportunities in South Africa for people like themselves.

Sixty-three percent of those surveyed believe the country will be better off in 10 years’ time; 48% believe South Africa has “a fantastic future” in store. The majority (62%) are more positive about SA than they were five years ago, compared to 22% who are now more negative about the country.

Of those who said they would not return to SA, 44% cited crime as a deterrent. Other reasons given were lack of job opportunities (15%), poorer quality of life (20%), and affirmative action and black economic empowerment (19%).

Seventy-one percent of all those surveyed said they were proud to have been born South African; 61% said they would really like to “give something back” to South Africa.

SouthAfrica.info reporter