It’s an often repeated—and robustly denied—complaint that goes like this: For all their rhetoric about involving the African diaspora in Africa’s economic development, the continent’s political leadership is not interested in recruiting people of African descent to help do the job. Instead, they appear to be more comfortable hiring whites—professionals, companies, nonprofits and even ex-government officials with no hands-on business or development experience, the complainants say. Indeed, the next big name that seems poised to hold development sway in Africa is Tony Blair, who steps down this month as prime minister of Britain amid widespread discontent with his leadership in his own country. Blair already has set himself up as a man who is passionate about Africa. In 2004, he established a Commission for Africa, whose March 2005 report was the basis of an agreement by the Group of Eight wealthiest nations to write off the choking debt owed them by developing countries. Never mind that the G8 has not delivered on that commitment. The mere promise of a debt write-off, at Blair’s urging, has won many hearts and minds on the continent.
When he leaves office, Blair reportedly will delay earning up to $20 million a year in speaker fees to become a “roving ambassador for Africa.” British press reports say he will concentrate on raising money for his new Blair Foundation, which will fund humanitarian work in Africa. That prompted Network Journal reader Ras Noor to lament: “Everyone seems to be pimping on Africa all of a sudden. Where does it end? And where are the Black people in the diaspora who are qualified to work over there?”
Since its creation in 2003, Career-Nation.com (www.careernation.com ) has tackled the second question. Founded by Nigerian-born Victor Madubuko, a certified professional human resources (PHR) executive who has worked in Moscow, New York City, Washington, D.C., and Abuja, Nigeria, CareerNation is a leading online destination for employers looking to staff positions in Africa and for professionals of African descent worldwide looking for opportunities on the continent. The site features a job board, a resume database and services that include screening resumes for specific jobs and arranging invitation-only hiring conferences.
“Even people from Brazil post their resumes on our site. We also work with local colleges where there are a large number of African students and we make presentations to Black professional organizations,” Madubuko says.
Each year, CareerNation puts on huge job fairs in several cities. “We are unapologetic about recruiting people of African descent,” Madubuko says. At the most recent CareerNation Expo-USA, held in New York City in April, 27 offers were extended to African-Americans, Africans from Africa, Afro-Latinos and Afro-Caribbeans for electrical engineering, procurement management and project management jobs paying in the six figures, he says. Eskom, South Africa’s electricity giant and one of the world’s top seven utilities, is recruiting through CareerNation for its five-year, $21 billion upgrade of electricity generation and delivery in southern Africa. “It is going specifically for candidates of African descent,” Madubuko says.
This year, more African-Americans seem anxious to go to Africa, Madubuko says. “They are not driven by money. They are more politically active,” he says. “They say, ‘I want to go for two to three years to help build [the continent].’ They don’t even negotiate the offers. They just go.” Older and more seasoned professionals take a different approach, Madubuko notes. “They negotiate tough. They want six figures, a car, assistance [selling] their home in the U.S., a trip to Africa and back to explore the opportunity, etc.,” he says.
CareerNation’s first United States expo in 2005 introduced 1,000 prescreened candidates to 50 representatives of mainly African hiring companies. Since then, more U.S. companies—American Express, IBM and Washington Mutual, for example—have been showing up to recruit for jobs in the United States. No surprise there, Madubuko says. “The African immigrant is the most educated of all immigrants,” he says. Madubuko himself holds an international law degree from the Russian People’s University, Moscow, a master’s degree in human resource management from New School University in New York City and is fluent in Russian.
Upcoming expos will be held in Atlanta on June 7; Houston on July 27; Washington, D.C., on Aug. 10; Philadelphia on Aug. 28; Boston, Oct. 19; and Los Angeles, Feb. 22, 2008. Job seekers can register online for these events at CareerNation’s Web site.
By Rosalind McLymont