Nadine Rix CA(SA), co-founder and Director of Nyansa Africa, says international experience has radically changed her as a person and she would definitely not be who she is today had she not gone through it. But then she adds – nothing can compare to Cape Town

Nadine Rix says what she loved most about Nigeria and Ghana is the amazing people she met. ‘One makes friends for life as we are all going through the same struggles. At work, I was really fortunate to have fantastic, hard-working and loyal people in my teams.’

Professionally, Nadine loved the opportunities that exist in the areas of audit, accounting, forensic investigations and training, saying: ‘If you work hard, it is fairly easy to stand out from others. Once you have established a brand, word of mouth does the rest.’

Describe yourself as a person?

I love life and everything it has to offer – good and bad. I am very open and always ready for new experiences.

How long did you live in Nigeria and Ghana?

Nigeria from March 2005 to August 2008 and in Ghana from October 2008 to December 2016.

How has your CA(SA) qualification benefited your career?

The designation carries a lot of weight when you are abroad. Trust is immediately established and in my experience, it is very highly regarded and respected. It literally opens doors.

How has international experience enriched your life and career?

I know I can do anything if I put my mind to it. Expats face unique challenges when it comes to doing ethical business in West Africa. I have learned to stay true to my values and beliefs, to follow my passion and know that success will follow. I learned to be grateful for everything I have. Us South Africans tend to complain a lot. Once you see what the rest of Africa has to offer, it quickly humbles you and gives you a very different perspective.

An interesting lesson you learned living in Nigeria and Ghana?

I learned how to listen to my ‘gut’. If something feels wrong, get out and if it feels right – jump in.

What are some of the challenges you encountered in Nigeria and Ghana?

A constant power supply is a massive challenge and so important if you are running a business. Good quality food, water and nice places to socialise are limited. The weather is incredibly hot and humid. Professionally, these markets are very difficult to enter. Typically, people don’t trust outsiders, but once you have proven yourself, they open doors for you.

Is there a community of South Africans living in Nigeria and Ghana?

There are big expat communities in both. The Ghana South Africa Business Chamber is very active and a good place to start if you are new in the country.

What do people do in Nigeria and Ghana to relax and enjoy their free time?

Nigeria is extremely limited in this respect – a couple of restaurants and the beach. Ghana has more tourist attractions and because it is such a nice place to live, there are more families as opposed to single expats.

Many families get together on weekends to braai, watch rugby or just go to the beach together.

What is the quality of living like in Nigeria and Ghana?

It is really up to you what you make of it and it depends on your mindset. Some people hate it, some love it.

What did you miss most about South Africa?

Woolworths food! My family and friends were always on my mind and I missed them the most.

What does a South African earn in Nigeria and Ghana? How does the income tax system work?

Salaries depend very much on who you work for. Big multinationals in Nigeria should pay in excess of US$12 000 a month cash in bank plus benefits (house, car, flights and schooling). Salaries in Ghana are lower as the economy is smaller and the cost of living lower.

If you work for a small company in Ghana, US$3 000 – 5 000 a month plus benefits, is a good salary.

The tax system is similar to that of South Africa.

What is the cost of living – rent, food, electricity, water, gasoline, entertainment? Etc? Also, what do big-ticket items like houses and cars cost on average?

In Ghana, you should expect to pay US$2 500 a month for a two-bedroom flat and up to US$5 000 for a house. Extras are generators and water. If you work for a multinational, this will all be paid for.

Food and entertainment depend on where you go. You can go to local places and it is fairly cheap, but if you want to go to South African chain stores or a nice restaurant, expect to pay two to three times the South African price.

Based on these two factors, can a South African go to Nigeria and Ghana to save money, or is it difficult because of the cost of living?

You can definitely save money and it really would not be worth it to live in these countries if you did not. It is not like Europe or the UK with many places to see and travel to.

It is a very tough environment and many expats do a couple of years to earn good money and accumulate a nice savings account. The expat cycle in Nigeria is on average 2–3 years.

When I went to Nigeria, 50% of South African expats returned within six months.

In Ghana, the cycle is longer – 5–8 years.