Market intelligence for international student recruitment from ICEF

Agency provides tips on recruitment in South and Central Africa

"The future is in Africa," declares Dr Patrick Nkhoma, Managing Director of DALP Consultancy Services, in our exclusive interview. This video series gives you an insider's view on how to be successful in South and Central Africa: Zambia, Malawi, Botswana, Namibia, and Zimbabwe. For your convenience, we've broken down the interview into various themed sections. We begin with a few pointers on how to enter these markets: "The most important thing is to work very closely with the first agent that you go in the market with," Dr Nkhoma tells us. He continues to explain that people in this region are more trusting, so he cautions providers on the best way to expand their reach: "Educators must be very careful and they must be very upfront before they engage a second agent - they must inform the first agent, they must do some background checks on the second agent... for example, [ensure] that they are well established, that they are properly registered and that they have an office." Part two gives an overview of how to get information on the South and Central markets. Emphasising that word of mouth is one of the most effective strategies, Dr Nkhoma states, "The best person to tell an educator about an agent, is another educator." Another strategy he suggests is to "use the team that you work with to get some inside information about a region before you go into it." Above all, it's important that providers visit an agent's office in Africa, and as he concludes, "You need to do due diligence, just like in any other business." In part three, we discuss how to build a foundation of trust, and what an agency is looking for when working with an educator. For example, Dr Nkhoma affirms that "the best educator is the one who listens for advice." He goes on to explain that agents are a key resource in building a recruitment network in Africa: "Because I'm on the ground, I know the best type of media advertising to use, and I know the best schools where we can get the best students for the particular type of degrees... so I'm in the right position to give an educator a budget, the timing of the advertising and the target market." Many educators think that they can use the same strategy in all countries in Africa, but Dr Nkhoma explains that in each African country there are "totally different market issues, undertones... the unspoken language, the soft skills are different. "This is where the mistake is - they tend to group Africa - thinking that what has worked in Nairobi will work in Kenya, in Zambia, for example, so there is a need for an educator to realise that... each African country has its own way of doing things." The final video in our series focusses on a few of the countries Dr Nkhoma specialises in, reviewing various fields of study which are in demand, and how educators can adapt their student recruitment strategies accordingly. "Predominantly, students in Zambia, Malawi, Botswana, Namibia, and Zimbabwe are looking for a bachelor degree in business - finance, accounting, banking, etc." But beyond business, each country has certain industry drivers, which educators ought to acknowledge strategically. "Look at the industry sector drivers and if [your institution offers degrees] within those areas, then you are likely to get government scholarships, and postgraduate training, because there are people who are already employed with a first degree, and who are looking to upgrade their skills in those industry sectors." For example, "Zambia is a mining country, so degrees in this area are very well sought after," whereas "in Malawi you are looking at agriculture: tea, tobacco and peanuts." He continues to explain that Botswana is well known for diamonds and tourism, but also, they have "a deliberate policy for education," noting that the country is ripe for collaboration in the education sector. Dr Nkhoma's outlook for the future is a bright one indeed: "Africa has 70% of the youth population in the world. To me, if anybody's not paying attention to Africa, they are missing the boat... Human capital is going to come from Africa. Africa is the next China, Africa is the next India." Special thanks to Florian Schäfer from kommod.tv who interviewed Dr Patrick Nkhoma, Managing Director of DALP Consultancy Services, on behalf of ICEF Monitor. The interview was filmed at the ICEF Higher Education Workshop held in Dublin in 2012; in 2013 the event moves to Istanbul.

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