Leaving South Africa - Not an Easy Decision
What a hard decision to make. To leave or not to leave... It's not easy to decide to leave South Africa. In fact it's darn difficult. From some aspects the decision is easy, pack up and go. On some days I could jump up and say, I'm leaving. Yet other times the lure of South Africa remains strong.
When opportunity comes knocking at the door one would think it's an easy choice to make. Go with the opportunity. And opportunity came knocking with the offer to move to the USA, not as a visitor, but a real legal work Visa.
Economically speaking, there's only one choice - Leave
From a work point of view, there's no really other choice. Working in a high tech industry in South Africa is frustrating to say the least. Just this last week we had no Internet connectivity for 5 days. A reliable fast Internet connection is something I cannot do without. No connection means no work gets done, no money in the bank.
It's bad enough at the best of times, when it stays connected. Then it's just the slow speed that's a problem. The last 2 years have seen the situation get worse, not better. A 10 Gbps data connection now seldom gives more than 2.6 Gbps. Most of the time it's more like 500 kbps. Then the ping rate goes south - and the server sees a dropped connection....
Maybe right now, with a business in it's early stages, the lost time can be made up. But what happens when there are more customers. Then there is no time not already needed. time lost to such problems is lost for good. The result is every task gets delayed, and eventually I'd have to limit the number of clients simple to compensate for "circumstances beyond our control". In an economic environment where costs keep rising, prices would have to go up.
Increasing prices is really not a feasible option. My prices are already at the market standards in the USA and UK, and if anything, in the upper competitive range here at home.
The frustration of the limits of technology in SA are things that encourage leaving.Often while waiting for an edit or to save and the page to refresh it seems insane to want to stay here. On those all too common occasions a save doesn't happen because the connection is dropped I could grab a bag, pull the hard drives, and just go.
A Better Market
Still considering the work factor, my industry has a very small customer base in South Africa. The demand for websites is low. Business often takes the view it's a waste of time having a site!. Not surprising really when many SA business sites(those not in the IT sector anyway) think of a websites as a single page, maybe an about page and another with contact information, maybe a form. Then they wonder why their site gets no visitors.
Instead, my client base is coming more from the overseas market. At least 95 percent of enquiries for web work is from prospective customers in the USA and Great Britain. It makes good sense to work from a country where my customers are located...
So there are two very compelling reasons to pack up and leave...
20 Years Younger the Answer is Easy
Were I 20 years younger, in my 30's or 20's the decision to stay or leave is would be a no-brainer. For the generation after mine and their children the immediate future is not so promising in SA. The nation admittedly has increasing severe problems of lack of work. Perhaps one day things will turn around for the better, but right now it makes sense for anyone in this age group to think of the prospects for themselves and their children.
Looking at things with the wisdom (well, hopefully wisdom) of a few more than 50 years of life I'd advise anyone in this age group to think very seriously about going somewhere else. Hopefully the younger members of my extended clan will read this and think about it too. (Whether you are blood or simply clan you know who you are). Should opportunity knock, grab it with both hands. And open your hearts to make it happen.
We are all to some extent masters of our own destiny. We only attract opportunity by being ready to receive it, being able to recognise it when it happens.
The great thing about being young is - you can always come back again.
So why do I hesitate, why a hard decision?
This is both an easy and a difficult question to answer... I think every African finds Africa calls to them. Even those of us who, like myself, trace our not so distant origins to Western and Northern Europe. Being African is more than the superficial skin colouration associated with Africanism. Being African is about having Africa in our blood, in our minds, in our hearts.
There are also some other things to think about. As we mature in life we gain responsibilities to others. It's easy to decide when we are young and carefree. When we have others to think about, their needs must be considered too. Can one place the burden of a major change in living on others?
Often our responsibilities must take precedence over what is logical, what is desirable..
In some ways the decision is made already
I can even say the decision is already made to leave for other pastures... It was made several years ago, before getting tied into an industry so reliant on technology. Although I must admit my very short list never went further than a short distance away - to another part of Africa. It's worth mentioning I really would prefer to live in a more tropical, more humid climate...
But again, the decision to venture away from Africa has been made, earlier this year. The better half, love of my life, already made it. The question is only really where and when.
Perhaps the chance to move to the USA is the one that MUST be taken as the best possible option. It's even to a climatic region that suits me - hot and humid. This is one time very clear, very carefully considered thought is needed.
Whatever Decision is made, part of me will remain forever in Africa.