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First-ever Africa PR and Communications Report Reveals Brain Drain as Vital Threat to PR Practice on the Continent



The first-ever Africa PR and Communications Report (APCR) reveals that brain drain is a critical challenge threatening the advancement of Public Relations and communications practice in Africa. Concerns over the emigration of highly trained and qualified African PR practitioners to countries across the globe dominate issues relating to talent recruitment, development and retention within the industry, the yet-to-be-released report points out.


Per the APCR which launched across the world on July 3, 2023, the risk of talent paucity is heightened by recent recognition and demand for African talents by global institutions. Nearly all PR practitioners (90 per cent) believe that more professionals are willing to leave the African country in which they operate while 80 per cent are convinced that even entry-level staff are already considering their exit from their countries. A lack of access to necessary tools and resources, training and development, and poor compensation are cited as critical factors driving the exodus of highly qualified professionals and young talents in the industry.



“It is not particularly strange that more young African talents are seeking relocation to countries with advanced economies, but it is a wake-up call for the PR industry to reflect on how it provides talents with the necessary tools and environment to thrive,” Ayeni Adekunle, BHM Founder and Africa PR & Communications Report Committee Chair says.


“These are some of critical factors to consider and issues within the industry we must first identify, however. As such, the need for an exhaustive report that identifies, analyses and proffers solutions to the challenges facing the PR and Communications industry in Africa with quality research and verifiable data is long overdue.”



Stephen Waddington, Managing Partner, Wadds Inc. and APCR Committee Adviser, pointed out: “Respondents in the APCR have pointed us in the directions we must take to fill the skills gap regarding capacity building, training, and welfare support. Unsurprisingly, practitioners highlighted the opportunity to increase their salary by at least half by moving to a similar position in any country of their choice.”


The report finds that optimism around the training and recruitment of practitioners is frail, with 70 per cent of respondents strongly disagreeing that there is an improved industry commitment to investing in resources necessary to upskill and hire new talents. A further 75 per cent of respondents are convinced that the PR and communications industry is suffering from the drastic plunge in talent availability. A dearth in the availability of qualified and experienced talents is widely believed by 81 per cent of respondents to be responsible for excessive workload or job demands for practitioners who remain with PR agencies in Africa, leaving them exposed to physical and mental exhaustion, decreased productivity, and increased stress and anxiety.



Inadequate earnings perhaps represent the most appealing factor for PR practitioners seeking relocation out of the continent. In countries like Nigeria and Ghana, 17 per cent of industry professionals earn less than $200 monthly while a third (32 per cent) of the respondents earn between $200 – $1000 monthly, especially in Rwanda and Kenya. In Botswana, DR Congo, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, and South Africa, only 24 per cent of respondents earned above $1000 but below $10,000 as monthly income. Overall, a significant majority (73 per cent) of industry professionals in the survey earn less than $10,000 per month, with only 6 per cent of practitioners earning a monthly income within the range of $10,000 to $30,000, and 2.5 per cent earning between $30,000 to $50,000 monthly.


In comparison, the average salary for a Public Relations practitioner in the United States of America is $63,000 per year, while an International Public Relations Specialist in the country earns an average salary of $48,366 per year. In London, United Kingdom, the average salary for a Public Relations professional is $44000 USD per year and elsewhere in Canada, the average salary for a Public Relations professional is $66,000 USD, with entry-level positions attracting up to $49,000 per year.



Interestingly, industry professionals in Africa are confident there can be a turnaround in achieving favourable salary benchmarks within the industry, as they believe quality work and more private investments can precipitate a significant change.


Ayeni, says “This report, among many things, allows us to critically examine the gap needed to be filled for PR practitioners in Africa to feel fulfilled and properly motivated. It is necessary to prioritise continuous training and development among young talents and encourage more private investments that can lead to favourable compensation benchmarks for the industry. Overall, the APCR will help us to effectively manage complexities in the practice, especially in relation to economic, societal, and international challenges.”



Other key findings on talent recruitment, retention, and compensation from the maiden edition of the APCR include:


  • There is a call to action for employers to encourage on-the-job training and exposure for deficient skill sets to be acquired. 21 per cent of practitioners believe that media and social media relations are essential skills that are in short supply.
  • When talents leave a firm, they do so with their expertise, ideas, technical know-how, and knowledge of the firm’s internal workings. About 62 per cent of practitioners agree that there is a significant financial loss associated with losing trained employees.
  • Practitioners are facing a skills gap as the industry evolves into new specialisations. The largest gaps identified in the report are in strategic thinking and planning (14 per cent), data visualisation and storytelling (12 per cent), research, evaluation and measurement (14 per cent) and copywriting and editing (11 per cent).
  • Male practitioners have more opportunities to aspire for and occupy leadership positions than women if promotion is based on years of experience alone. About 17 per cent of male practitioners have work experience of more than 10 years, compared to 10 per cent of women with similar experience.
  • Industry professionals (66 per cent) agree that there are gaps regarding diversity and inclusion.


The Africa PR and Communications report is compiled by BHM Research Intelligence (BR&I) in partnership with the the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR), CIPR International, Association of Advertising Agencies Of Nigeria (AAAN), Public Relations and Communications Association (PRCA), Africa Communications Week (ACW), International Communications Consultancy Organisation (ICCO), Women In PR Ghana (WIPRG), Magna Carta Reputation Management Consultants and Wadds Inc.



The list of partner associations also includes African Public Relations Association (APRA), Associaçã de Profissionais de Relaçoes Públicas de Moçambique (APRPM), Global Mind Consulting, Nigerian Women in PR, Uganda Marketers Society, Rwanda Communications Network, Uganda Advertising Association, Central University Ghana, BHM UK, BHM, ID Africa and Plaqad.Inc.


The report relies on quantitative data, insights, and qualitative information from focus group discussions (FGDs), interviews, surveys, and essay contributions from over 500 industry practitioners across 29 countries in North, Southern, East, Central and West Africa. And was launched globally on Monday, July 03, 2023.

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