Brain Drain Also known as Human Capital Flight Definition: This is the large-scale emigration of individuals with technical skills or knowledge; it is largely due to dissatisfaction with prevailing conditions in a country, eg. conflict, lack of opportunity, political instability, or health risks.
Brain Drain Brain drain is said to occur when a country becomes short of skills when people with such expertise emigrate. The UN Development Programme (UNDP) notes that in Africa, the loss of medical doctors has been the most striking
Reasons for Brain Drain Brain Drain has numerous factors at play. These can be classified under: Push factors – from the area of origin Pull factors – to the area of destination
Push and Pull factors Push factorsPull factors Poor working conditionsGood working conditions Limited career opportunitiesDiverse career opportunities Limited educational opportunitiesDiverse educational opportunities Low payHigh pay Economic instabilityEconomic stability Some examples of these are shown below
Extent of the Brain Drain Though the statics are quite inconsistent with figures, there have been several reports confirming massive capital flight from Africa. The UN Economic Commission for Africa estimates that between 1960 and 1975 about 27,000 highly qualified Africans left the continent for the West. In 1987, this represented 30% of the highly skilled manpower stock
Extent of the Brain Drain Africa lost 60,000 professionals (doctors, university lecturers, engineers, scientists, etc.) between 1985 and 1990. Africa has been losing an average of 20,000 professionals annually ever since African countries have been recruiting about 100,000 non-African skilled expatriates at an exorbitant cost, estimated at US$4 billion annually.
Extent of the Brain Drain According to the Ghana statistical service, in the period 1999 to 2004, 448 doctors, i.e 54% of those trained in the period, left to work abroad 38 of the 47 sub-Saharan African countries fall short of the minimum World Health Organization (WHO) standard of 20 physicians per 100,000 people.
Extent of the Brain Drain It has been reported that There are more Ethiopian doctors in Chicago than there are in Ethiopia There are more African Scientists in the US than on the entire African continent
Dealing with the Brain Drain Which of the following is an easier step? *Stop* professionals from leaving Get those who have left to Contribute to Africa Return those who have left
Dealing with the Brain Drain Whether it be to Stop, Return or make them Contribute to Africa, the Pull and Push factors have to be considered.
In Burkina Faso, UNDP noted, 800 foreigners with university degrees were employed in the country in 1990, while an equivalent number of Burkinabè nationals with university degrees were jobless A common complaint given by Africans leaving abroad: that African Governments pay expatriates more. PUSH FACTORS
Comment by an African Living in the USA on BBC’s Africa Live Debate I am an African living and working as a Geotechnical Engineer in Australia. Unlike in my own country, I am recognised and appreciated as a professional in every sense. Back home, I worked for the copper mines and was paid less than a tenth of what an expatriate was paid and was constantly being put down as being not up to the standard of expatriates. Why on earth would I want to return to such a miserable existence?
PULL FACTORS In the rural province of Saskatchewan, Canada, more than 50 per cent of doctors are foreign trained and at least 1 in 5 of the 1,530 doctors there earned their first medical degree in South Africa. South Africa later requested the Canadian Government to stop recruiting South African Doctors
Contributions by Africans Abroad If the Professionals outside African would contribute back to Africa, there would be a cushion to the impact of the Brain Drain.*** A Feasibility study was carried out by Dr. A.A. Mohamoud, in Amsterdam – September 2005
30 highly qualified African diaspora interviewed affirmed their willingness to contribute to the development of knowledge in Africa on a voluntary basis. Offering summer courses, seminars and workshops, and reviewing teaching and training curricula Dr. A.A. Mohamoud’s Feasibility study of the Readiness of African Diaspora to impart knowledge back home. Contributions by Africans Abroad
It was noted that the absence of formal networks is one of the main obstacles preventing many of the highly skilled African diaspora from transferring knowledge back to the continent. The constraints impeding knowledge transfer back to Africa include bureaucratic red tape, hierarchical structures, and poor infrastructure and facilities. Same factors that push them away. Dr. A.A. Mohamoud’s Feasibility study of the Readiness of African Diaspora to impart knowledge back home. Contributions by Africans Abroad
Return of African Professionals Most Africans intending to come back to Africa to settle, face challenges of not being ‘recognised’ by African Governments.***
Return of African Professionals Comment by an African Living in the USA on BBC’s Africa Live Debate I think there is a possibility that this can stop. If African governments themselves want this to stop. I haven't seen any government making any sort of effort to bring back the educated.
Its all drops to Patriotism Comment by an African Living in Canada on BBC’s Africa Live Debate I am a Ghanaian currently doing my PhD in Canada. I have decided to go home after graduation. I remember the toil of our cocoa farmers and miners that kept us in school. Consequently, I don't think we the young ones have any excuse not to return and contribute. My elder brother returned to Ghana after his studies in the US and I can testify that he is happy, although not rich. Patriotism, that is all that Africa needs to reverse this brain drain