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This Developer Built A Website That Tracks South Africans Who Are Emigrating And Where They Are Going


A South African developer has created a website which shows the rise of emigration in South Africa.

Created by Bernhard Smuts, Wheredidwego.com aims to track where these emigrants are heading, and the skills they are taking with them.

Speaking to BusinessTech, Smuts said that he decided to create the website due to the growing number of his friends and family who have left the country.

“A large majority of my friends and family have moved overseas already and out of interest one day I decided to go through my Facebook friends list to try and count how many have left,” he said.

“I realised that there were so many who had left, I instead had to start counting the ones who had stayed, and the number wasn’t a very large one. I wanted to get an idea of when and where they all left to and being a software developer, I built out a small web application to visualize the data.

“I sent the link to them, asked them to add their data and surprisingly it started spreading across various expat Facebook groups.”

Smuts stressed that the aim of his site is not to preach doom and gloom, but more to shine a spotlight on the situation the country is facing.

“I have received many emails from people thanking me for showing them this as it makes them not feel so alone in leaving their homeland for greener pastures,” he said.

“A high majority of the people would not have wanted to leave the country, but crime, safety, and economic situations forced them to put the good of their children and families first and make the move.

“Many people have built for themselves amazing lives overseas.”

How it works 

Smuts said that the site’s data is user-generated and sourced by expats filling in a basic form on the site to log their data in the database.

“There is then a verification check to the email address used to add the data as a simple step to prevent people from adding false data,” he said.

“The data is not guaranteed to be a 100% true reflection, but it’s a close enough approximation.”

While the site may not provide completely accurate data, it does point to a number of interesting trends.

“With regards to when people leave, there is definitely a sharp rise after 2015, and with the bar chart, you can clearly see that people tend to leave during the middle of the year and not as much at the beginning or the end of the year,” Smuts said.

He added that there a large number of people were leaving for software and IT-related jobs, followed closely by teachers and the engineering professions.

“With regards to countries, at the time of writing, the majority of movements have been to Australia, New Zealand, United Kingdom and Canada.”

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