Madagascar

Why Madagascar Could Be A Good Choice For Immigration

The Republic of Madagascar is located in the Indian ocean off the coast of southern Africa, about 450 km (280 miles) east of Mozambique.  Also known as the Red Island, it’s one of the four largest islands in the world.  It has a narrow coastal plain with a high plateau and mountains in its center. The highest point in this Island is Mountain Maromokotro at 9,435 feet (2,876 meters) and the lowest is the Indian Ocean at 0 feet (0 meter). The land area. Most of the Madagascar is undeveloped and wild, with lush forest and vibrant coral reefs still to be touched by human hands.  So, for people who love to live in a calm isolated yet beautiful place, Madagascar is the perfect place.

For people who would love to move to this beautiful Island must be familiar with the political and economic conditions as well. Over a period of time Madagascar has experienced repeated political instability. Madagascar is among the world’s poorest countries where around 70% of the Malagasy people liver below the world poverty line. The population of Madagascar is around 25 million people with various ethnic groups. In spite of the political situation and the condition of the people, Madagascar has shown significant improvement and stability in the economic conditions with the help of foreign aids. Madagascar has an excellent climate for agriculture, like clove and vanilla. It is also rich in natural resources including graphite, coal, quartz and salt. As of now Madagascar has a market economy with agriculture, mining, textile and tourism industries which contribute to the growing economy and is attracting lot of expats from all around the world.

Traveling information:

The Government warns visitors and travelers to Madagascar to exercise increased caution due to expected crime, assault and armed robbery.  Certain areas are specially targeted and hence travelers need to get advance information of the city they are visiting. It is good to avoid night-time travel as suggested by local police as well.   

The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) recommends that vaccines not only for Covid-19, but also the routine vaccines for Polio, Chickenpox(Varicella), Flu(influenza), Measles-Mumps-Rubella(MMR), Shingles, Diphtheria-Tetanus-Pertusis must be taken at least one month before you travel.  Hepatitis A & B vaccine is recommended for unvaccinated people of all ages.  If you are travelling from a country with risk of Yellow Fever only than you need to be vaccinated with Yellow Fever Vaccine. Rabid animals including Dogs are found in Madagascar and very limited and no rabies treatment in available in many areas in Madagascar, so is highly recommended to consider taking rabies vaccination before travelling here.  

Regardless of the Covid-19 vaccination status, all travelers to Madagascar get pre-departure PCR test, antigen test on arrival. The test will cost (€15/US$20/65,000 Ariary) in cash. If the test result is positive than you are required to be quarantine for 7 days at a selected hotel at the traveler’s cost. Medical treatment if required will be also be at your cost. 

The best and practical way to get into Madagascar is by Air. There are direct flights from Johannesburg to Madagascar. The Ivato International Airport in the capital city Antananarivo servers main Airliners from major destinations like Paris, Bangkok, Nairobi, Milan etc.

How to immigrate: 

There are two types of categories under which Visas are divided.  One is the Non-immigrant Visa and the second is Transformable type Visa. The Non-immigrant visa is for 90 days stay with 1 or 3 entries.  The Transformable Visa is valid for 30 days and once the person is in Madagascar they can apply for a long-term visa. 

The Transformable Visa is issued for any one of the following valid categories:
Investors
Employees
Family Members in reunion
Executive officers/managers of companies established in the country
Religious Missionaries
Retired People
Students
Volunteers
Natives
Scientists

Tourist Visa: 

The Tourist Visa is a eVisa, and can only be applied online. It is usually processed in few days and sent to the applicant to an valid email address.  There are no restrictions to visit Madagascar, people from all nationalities can apply for tourist visa for tourism purpose. 

The passport must be valid for at least six months to a year and must not be more than 10 years old. The fees can be paid online or pay at the airport on arrival at Madagascar. It is mandatory that the applicant must be financially adequate to support themselves during their visit in Madagascar. 

Applicants also need to reserve a hotel for minimum two nights and pay the fees in advance. A receipt of the reservation must be submitted when applying for eVisa. 

For minor children an identity document along with a handwritten authorization letter to leave their country have to be submitted, irrespective whether the child is travelling with or without parents. In case if the child has a single parent or a deceased parent, then a divorce or a death supporting certificate needs to be submitted.

To apply for eVisa, please log on to evisamada.gov.mg and create an account with an valid email address.

Work Visa:

All expats seeking employment in Madagascar needs a Work Permit. Self-employed individuals must apply for a work permit themselves. 

Employers sponsor the expats and arranges the stay in the country and arrange for the work permit. Once the work permit is issued signed by the Ministry of Work, you need to apply for a transformable visa.  The documents required for the Transformable Visa are as follows: 

  1. Employment Contract issued and stamped by MFPTLS (Ministry of Public Service, labor Administration Reform and Social Laws)
  2. Work Permit
  3. A certificate of employment issued by the employer
  4. Registration certificate of the company employing the expat. The certificate must be issued by the Registrar of Companies.
  5. Company’s Tax Identification Number (TIN)
  6. Company’s statistics cards.
  7. Two recent passport size photos of the employee
  8. A copy of the passport with at-least one-year validity.
  9. A criminal record from the employee’s country of origin.
  10. Letter from the applicants indicating the reasons to move to Madagascar
  11. Vaccination certificates ( required vaccination is mentioned in Travelling Information above)

The application along with documents and fees must be submitted to the Malagasy embassy or consulate. A visa interview or meeting is scheduled at the embassy who will ask questions regarding working in the Madagascar and may ask to show other documents. Sometimes it may take time to process the visa, which you need to pick up from the embassy or they send it to you.  The work visa is a short-term Visa, maybe for a month or so, which allows you to enter Madagascar. The visa is labelled “Extended and Transformable”, which means that during this period a Residence Permit must be obtained which allows you to stay in the country. A Residence Permit allows you to work in Madagascar till your work contract permits.

People:

The local Malagasy people are very humble and they love to welcome foreigners. They respect their culture and expect others to respect them. They will feel happy if you greet them in their language and will love you for that. It is estimated that nine-tenth of the population is Malagasy, which are about 20 ethnic groups. The names of some of the groups with their outstanding features are as follows

Marina (Elevated People) – The most dominant ethnic group living on the Plateau.
Betsimisaraka (The inseparable Multitude) – Second largest group living in the east.
Betsileo (The Invincible Multitude) – inhabit the plateau around Fianarantsoa.
The Tsimihety (Those Who Do Not Cut Their Hair)
The Sakalava (People of the Long Valley)
The Antandroy (People of the Thorn Bush)
The Tanala (People of the Forest)
The Antaimoro (People of the Banks)
The Bara (a name of uncertain origin)
The Antanosy (People of the Island)
The Antaifasy (People of the Sand)
The Sihanaka (People of the Lake)
The Antakarana (People of the Rocks)
The Betanimena (People of the Red Soil)
The Bezanozano (Those with Many-Braided Hair)
The Mahafaly (Those Who Make Taboos)

Almost half of the population are Christians and belong to Protestantism, Roman Catholicism denominations. Almost 42% people practice traditional religion based on ancestor worship.  Sunni Muslims are also found in the northwest Madagascar.

Job offers: 

Madagascar is a developing nation and job opportunities are scarce. However one can get jobs mainly in the agriculture and tourism sectors. If you a native English speaker, you have lots “Teaching English” opportunities.  For people who who like to work in health/nursing, the Mercy Ships are a good place to go. Mercy Ships are stationed in Madagascar almost constantly. There are a number of opportunities in Engineering, IT, Construction work and telecommunications as well. Larger embassies like the United States also have job opportunities from time to time, so its good to check with the embassy as well. The average salary ranges from 333,000 MGA lowest) to 5,870,000 MGA.  This may include housing, transport and other benefits. A typical earning of a person is around 1,310,000 MGA per month.

Expats with more job experience from 2 to 5 years earn 32% more on an average than freshers across all industries.   For professionals with more than 5 years of experience will earn more than 36% than those with less experience. You can visit glassdoor.co.in to find the salaries in companies in Antananarivo and other locations in Madagascar. 

“JobnetAfrica” website helps expats find job in many sectors in Madagascar. Vacancies are updated weekly on this website. 

To find out different portals to find jobs in Madagascar, please visit: www.visahunter.com

Unemployment rate: 

The unemployment rate was 2.6% in 2021, which is 2.5% increase from the previous year. The low unemployment rate is due to low living standard in Madagascar. The reason why the living standards are low is low income, inequality, poor health and inadequate education.

Economy:   

Madagascar economy is built on strong agriculture sector, textile, tourism and food industries. Madagascar produces of the best quality of Vanilla, which comes from an orchid and is used for flavoring. Madagascar became the 1st largest exported of Vanilla in 2020 by exporting $539M vanilla. Its other big exports include Gold ($187 M), Knit Sweaters ($126 M), Raw Nickel ($164 M) and Titanium Ore ($101 M). These products are mainly exported to United States, UAE, France, Germany and China. Even though Madagascar process a large number of natural resources which includes chromite, graphite, coal, fish and hydropower, it remains an agricultural-based economy. Agricultural contributes 25% of GDP out of the nations $37.5 billion GDP (PPP) and also gives 80% of employment on the Island.  Madagascar recorded a sporadic economic growth from the year 2017 to 2019 and then the Covid-19 pandemic which caused 967 deaths as of 1st december’21, put a brake on Madagascar’s economic growth and the country went into a recession in 2020. As of now Madagascar’s economy freedom score is 58.9% making its economy the 98th freest in the 2022 index.

The economy of Madagascar is adversely affected by bad roads, deficient infrastructure, lack of material and technological resources, cumbersome unreliable & complicated registration system and natural disasters such as cyclones. In the past Madagascar suffered political corruption for decades, which had much influence on the poor economy of this island. The Anticorruption efforts are weak in comparison to the pervasive corruption in the Police departments, tax authorities, customs & land administration and many commercial sectors. 

To get the detailed economic figures of Madagascar’s economy, please visit: globaledge.msu.edu

Renting and buying of real estates for foreigners:

Buying:

Foreigners have the same rights to buy or get a land on lease as the Malagasy nationals. Foreign nationals can enjoy real estate in Madagascar but cannot become owners of the land. No national or land belonging to Malagasy state or classified into public domain cannot be bought or purchased.  All foreigners wishing to buy land/property must file an application to the EDBM (Economic Development Board of Madagascar It is the decision of the EDBM and the Government to determine and grant the authorization according to certain terms and conditions.  

Any foreigner wishing to acquire real estate is required to file with the EDBM, giving the following details with supporting documents:

  1. a request from the interested party, prepared on a form provided by the Administration,
  2. a certificate of registration and legal status of the immovable property/land being acquired,
  3. a declaration on the honor of the immovable property held by the applicant in Madagascar;
  4. a certificate of nationality,
  5. an investment plan and program,
  6. a certificate of investment fund of contribution, equal to or greater than US $ 500,000 or any equivalent in foreign currency.

There are two available options for the foreigners

1. The emphyteutic lease, called emphyteusis – The Emphyteutic lease allows the foreigners to enjoy the rights of ownership during a period agreed and defined between 18 and 99 years, it has no sale value, however it is long term with certain advantages.

2. To purchase real estate as a company – In this option they have the same property rights in the same way as Malagasy citizens)

Climate:

Madagascar has a tropical climate in the coastal region but varies on different locations at the island. Like other equatorial areas, it typically experiences an annual cycle of hot and dry weather from November to April, followed by cooler wet season from May to October.

The east of the Island is the warmest with temperatures regularly reaching 30 deg.c or more. The east also has far more rain brought in by the Indian ocean trade winds.  The west of the Island is cooler and drier with frosts at higher altitudes. The far south and southwest is a semi-desert and gets very little rainfall.  

Highlands becomes very cold with night temperatures descend below 5 deg.c especially between June to September. The rains starts in November and may last till April in the highlands. During this period the average temperature if 28 to 30 deg.C, making it the hottest time of the year. 

For the detailed climate in all the regions of Madagascar, please refer to www.worlddata.info

Languages:

The official language of Madagascar is Malagasy, which is written in the Latin alphabet.  It is a standardized version of Merina, an Austronesian Language. The Austronesian people from the southeast Asia brought the language to Madagascar when they first settled in this island. The eastern and western regions speak distinct dialects of Malagasy.  

The Malagasy is closely related to the languages spoken in Malaysia, the Philippines and Indonesia and is must different than the languages spoken in the neighboring countries like Mozambique and South Africa.   

Madagascar is a Francophone nation. French is also an official language here is also widely spoken along with 300 native languages spoken throughout the Island. French is the language of instructions in Schools & instructions, even though Malagasy is largely spoken. Around 0.618% of the total population in Madagascar speak French. English is also widely spoken and used for business and international relations.

Traffic: 

Except for a few major roads, most of the roads are in state of disrepair. Some roads are impossible to travel on during rainy season. Antananarivo’s  main roads are good. Outside Antananarivo  night travel is not advisable due to poor lighting and road conditions.   

You drive on the right side of the road in Madagascar. Wearing seatbelts is compulsory and use of cell phones even with hands-free is prohibited. For motorbikes and two-wheelers helmet is compulsory. You may find many streets congested as vehicles, pedestrians, animal carts, bicycles all moving at the same time in the narrow streets. Therefore, accidents are very common as usually involves pedestrians. 

Major traffic cycles and intersections have Policeman directing traffic. If a policeman has his back to you in a circle, then you are required to stop. Vehicle is seized for few days if driver is caught driving under the influence of Liquor and also fine will be incurred. As a foreigner, an International Driving License is a must. You do not require a local driver’s license if you have a IDP and passport with entry stamped.

To get detailed information on License, Laws, renting a car & cost, please visit: internationaldriversassociation.com

Currency and payment transactions: 

The official currency of Madagascar is Malagasy Ariary (MGA). Ar is used as the symbol to represent Malagasy Ariary.  Euro is the most accepted foreign currency in Madagascar. 

The currency is available is the following banknotes denominations:
Ar100, Ar200, Ar500, Ar1000, Ar2000, Ar5000 and Ar10000

The currency is available is the following coins denominations:
Ar0.20, Ar1, Ar2, Ar2.5, Ar4, Ar5, Ar10, Ar20 and Ar50

To find out the exchange rate of Malagasy Ariary (MGA) to different currencies, please visit: www.mataf.net

Apartment Rent: 

The rent depends on many factors, however the average rent of the apartment in Madagascar is as below: 

In a city center, one-bedroom apartment : $250 or so per month
Outside the city center, One-bedroom apartment : $90 or so per month
In a city center, three-bedroom apartment : $860 or so per month
Outside the city center, three-bedroom apartment: $615 or so per month

To find flats for rent in Madagascar, please visit: www.expat.com

Cost of Living: 

In Madagascar there are choices in almost everything, Food, Modes of Travel and Accommodation, so basically one can plan his/her own budget as per your income and enjoy a comfortable life. In comparison to other countries, it’s very low. 

Here are some products mentioned below, so that you will get a clear idea of the cost of living: 

Product

Quantity

Amount in MGA Malagasy Ariary

Milk

1 lit

3,396.60 Ar

Eggs

12 (a dozen)

7,975.00 Ar

Tomatoes

1 Kg (2 lb.)

3,250.00 Ar

Chicken Fillets

1 kg

20,500.00 Ar

Rice (White)

1 kg

3,012.50 Ar

Apples

1 kg

6,325.00 Ar

Bread

500g

2,883.33 Ar

Local Cheese

1 kg

31,571.43 Ar

Internet Cable/ADSL

60 Mbps unlimited data

269,833.33 Ar

Water Bottle

1.5 liter

2,355.56 Ar

Bottle of wine

Mid-Range

30,000.00 Ar

Local Transport

1 way ticket

500.00 Ar

Gasoline

1 liter

4,100.00 Ar

Utilities (heating, electricity cooling, water,garbage)

For 85m2 apartment

170,000.00 Ar

Cinema International Release  

1 seat

30,000.00 Ar

3 course Meal –mid range   

2 person  

70,000.00 Ar

Coke/Pepsi

0.33 Liter

3,591.75 Ar

McMeal at McDonalds

Combo

20,000.00 Ar

To get the updated cost of other important items and services, please visit: www.numbeo.com

Taxes: 

The tax here is based on the current personal income tax rates which are progressive up to 20%. Value Added Tax (VAT) is generally 20%. Excise duty on imported or manufactured here varies from 5% to 325% or at fixed amounts per litre or per unit. 

For a detailed list of taxes levied in Madagascar, please visit: www.lloydsbanktrade.com

Health Insurance: 

The healthcare facilities are generally below international standards. The hospitals in Antananarivo provides general/basic treatments, for emergencies and surgery evacuation to either Mauritius, Reunion or South Africa is required.

Important addresses: 

Ivato International Airport
N52, Antananarivo, Madagascar
Phone: +261 20 22 440 41

Sainte Marie Airport
WR68+4MV, Vohilava, Madagascar
Phone: +261 34 11 222 13

COTISSE TRANSPORT
Transportation service in Antananarivo
IVM 12 TER AT Ambodivona, Antananarivo 101, Madagascar
Phone: +261 32 11 027 10

Embassy of South Africa
Embassy in Antananarivo, Madagascar
Phone: +261 20 22 494 82

UK Embassy
JIRAMA, 149 Lalana Rainandriamampandry,
Antananarivo, Madagascar
Phone: +261 20 22 330 53

Summary:

Madagascar with its lush and green forest, amazing wildlife, beautiful flowers & flowing sea it’s almost like paradise on earth. The plants and animals are very unique in Madagascar. The most famous animal is the Lemur, which are in different kinds, colors, sizes and characteristics. 

On the other side of beauty Madagascar has a high crime rate and potential for political instability, exercising high degree of caution is essential. Especially in areas where foreigners congregate armed gangs are always on the lookout. Never to be alone or drive alone especially after 7 pm. Before your travel plans check with reliable sources the situation in Madagascar. Madagascar has a high risk for Malaria as well, so carry with anti-mosquito repellent, creams etc.  For expats Madagascar has opportunities to work in construction projects as a part of community development initiative.

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