Africanisation and manpower requirement: A study of the employment policies and practices in Sierra Leone between 1955 and 1978.

  • Osman Kabonkoh Mange-Sankoh

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


This thesis is the outcome of a research carried out in Sierra Leone and the United Kingdom between 1978 and 1980. It is a study of the post-colonial employment policies and practices in Sierra Leone with references drawn from other African states with similar colonial experience from 1955 to 1978. The significance of the two dates as the start-off and cut-off points of the study lies in the fact that 1955 marked the end of the first decade after World War II during which nationalism and constitutional development in colonial Africa started, and it was essentially a reaction against the employment policy of the colonial government. It was also during this period that actual economic expansion and development in colonial Africa took shape with the introduction of the Colonial Development and Welfare Act (1945). The late seventies provided an opportunity to review and evaluate the success of Africanisation policies which had been pursued. As a process, Africanisation has had different labels and taken different forms. For certain countries, the term Africanisation was not the most desirable term. Instead, localisation, indigenisation or Sierra Leonisation, Nigerianisation, etc. has been preferred. In such cases, these terms might be substituted for Africanisation. In this study they have been used synonymously to describe the policies which respective African states have pursued in order to increase the employment opportunities and advancement of their nationals in the public and private sectors of their countries. The choice of policies depended on the political orientation and the state of the economy of individual countries. In Sierra Leone, the Africanisation of the public sector took precedence over the private sector. It was much easier to achieve than the private sector where the pressure for Africainisation did not gain momentum until well after independence. However, when the pressure for private sector Africanisation did come, two policies were pursued, the first was the immigration control designed to restrict the employment of non-nationals in activities where Sierra Leonean nationals can equally perform, aimed at a quantitative control of expatriate employment in the private sectors the second was the fiscal policy designed to increase the relative costs of expatriate employment to the employer and thus restrict their employment. For both sectors, the motivation for Africanisation was political, economic and social, but in the absence of trained and qualified local manpower these goals could not be realized. At the attainment of independence, educational facilities were expanded and improved. It was hoped that this expansion and improvement would increase the supply of trained and qualified local manpower and thus reduce the country's dependence on foreign skills. But neither the Africanisation policies nor the expansion and improvement in educational facilities had succeeded in reducing the number of expatriates employed in both sectors which stood at 2,500 in 1978 against 1,807 in 1964. Two reasons were identified to be broadly responsible for this apparent failure of the Africanisation policies to reduce the number of expatriates employed in the economy of Sierra Leone. The first was attributed to the failure of the education system (expanded and improved after independence) to produce the right skill mix required by employers. The second was a hybrid of several factors which expatriate employers used as excuses for their unwillingness to Africanise high-level positions in their respective enterprises. Particularly, the government's lip service to Africanisation policies and its retrograde examples of de-Africanisation on certain state enterprises served private sector expatriate employers very well. The area of greatest weakness in the study lies in the absence of sufficient statistical data necessary for an adequate analysis of the problems of Africanisation as a dynamic process. The statistics used have normally been drawn either from the publications listed or from the digest of statistics which governments published periodically. It is difficult to guarantee a high standard of accuracy in every case because of the limitations imposed by the scarcity of up-to-date data, and even those that are in the majority of instances rather crude estimates and invariably do not make explicitly clear as to how expatriate personnel are deployed in both the public and private sectors of the economy. While all this connotes caution in the use of such data, it does not spell despair. Fortunately, statistical surveys, however important they may be, do not bring into relief all that is important in the life of a people. As Cuber and Kenkel pointed out in their work on social stratification: Historical data, personal observation and illustrative cases are all empirical and highly useful in this and many other fields, even though they yield no coefficient of correlations or chi squares. It is in this tradition that the writer wants this study to be viewed, and it is his hope that it will provide the basic guideposts for a fuller understanding of the dynamics of Africanisation and will serve as a necessary background for further studies on the contemporary scene.
Date of Award1981
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath

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