In Nigeria, the last quarter of the year is often called the “JAPA” season. Japa is a term used in Nigeria to describe brain drain (emigration of trained experts from a country).
Over the years, international firms have had their pick of strong talents from the Nigerian tech talent pool. This year, Nigeria has recorded a lot of tech talents migrating from the country.
In an interview with Mike, a senior frontend engineer, who until he left the country, worked with a well-paying fintech company in Lagos, Nigeria.
When asked why he left his great job behind, he explained that he was simply tired and “Simply could not do it anymore.”
Mike was a well-earning “tech bro” in Lagos and loved his job, but the mental stress that came with just existing in Nigeria was enough for him to leave his stable camp and set base in a new country. The final push to move came from being assaulted by the police because he refused to pay the officers for being with his work laptop.
In Nigeria, this has almost become a norm. Young creatives and techies are tagged by the police as “Yahoo boys” when seen carrying their gadgets in public. This was the major catalyst of the END SARS protest held in 2020 in Nigeria.
Between 2014 and 2020, 474 Nigerian techies moved to the UK via the UK government’s Tech Talent VISA.
Mike, however, is among the population of techies that have had it going well for them; I doubt that the 27% of unemployed Nigerians would share in Mike’s sentiments.
The Nigerian Bureau of Statistics said that over 40 million Nigerians are out of jobs. This is alarming, as the country produces over 300,000 graduates from different higher institutions, leaving most of the qualified graduates jobless.
The health sector in Nigeria also shares in this massive effect of brain drain. As of 2019, the number of health practitioners reduced from 44,021 in 2018, to 24,640; and continues to dwindle as the years surpass.
What’s pushing them to leave the country?
It is only normal for fresh graduates to accept jobs abroad, especially when they are offered good money and great working conditions, but it gets alarming when established talents like Mike, who already have it all, drop everything and leave.
The corporate world in Nigeria is seemingly not in great shape, and employers continue to push their employees beyond humane expectations.
In previous years, employees would suck it all up but now, people prioritize their mental health and safety first, before their jobs.
The shift from the remote to on-site work style after the peak of the pandemic had a lot of employees quitting their jobs because they just couldn’t adapt to the old system anymore.
Safety in Nigeria is another stressor that pushes almost everyone to IELTS registration centers and country embassies, coupled with the mass injustice meted out to employees that dare request the bare minimum of incentives that they are legally entitled to.
How is the Japa mentality affecting the quality of tech talents in Nigeria?
One way to look at the effect of brain drain in Nigeria’s tech sector is the lack of experienced talents. Another perspective is having migrated techies come back to the country and set base.
The experience they have gathered from working with companies abroad will improve the quality of junior techies and other techies that may look up to them.