The UK opening up its borders to Africa could hasten the brain drain

More South Africans will start considering emigrating once it becomes easier to get a UK visa.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has promised to make it easier for Africans to enter and trade with the region post Brexit. Speaking at the first UK-Africa Investment Summit in London on Monday, he told African leaders that Britain would be more open to migrants from African countries after putting an end to preferential treatment for EU migrants.

"By putting people before passports we will be able to attract the best talent from around the world, wherever they may be," he said. "Our (immigration) system is becoming fairer and more equal between all our global friends and partners, treating people the same, wherever they come from," he said.

The UK’s promises to open more of itself to migrants from the African continent should be a worry to HR leaders concerned about losing scare South African skills to the brain drain that is already accelerating as emigration starts to become a very real business risk. Last year, a survey released by Xpatweb revealed that the jobs South African employers were struggling to fill happened to be the very ones that are in demand in popular emigration destinations such as the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Australia.

Furthermore, Pew Research estimates that at least 900 000 people born in South Africa were living in other countries in 2017, with many of these people being skilled and educated.

Britain will leave the EU on 31 January, although ties will remain the same for 11 months while the two sides thrash out a new trading relationship.