ON June 11, the senior African scientists meeting under the banner of the Network of African Science Academies (NASAC) asked the world’s richest countries to help stem out the ruinous exodus of scientists from our continent.
The call is timely because migration shall be one of the main agenda for the G8+5 summit that will take place in Italy from 8-10 July.
According to the United Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), Africa suffers more than any other region in science and technology. The higher the level of education, the more likely the scientist is to leave the country.
“One third of all African scientists live and work in developed countries. This outflow represents a significant loss of economic potential for the continent, especially in today’s global society where scientific and technological knowledge drive development.” NASAC statement reads in part.
Brain drain is a major setback to the African continent and its results are devastating. The African dream of economic and political opulence remains a mirage as long as the monumental issue of brain drain remains unresolved.
The world’s richest nations have continually remained the beneficiaries of Africa’s best groomed brains while the ‘savage’ branded continent lavishes and wallows in poverty, disease and foreign debt servicing.
In 2005, there was an endorsement of the centers of excellence by the G8 Summit in Gleneagles which recommended US$3 billion to fund centers of excellence in Africa. The results for the endorsement are yet to be seen.
The G8+5 should honor the Gleneagles commitments if Africa’s brain drain is to be reversed.
On the other hand, rooting out corruption in many African states can be pivotal in resolving the continent’s woes.
A case in point is Nigeria which tops in the list of corrupt African nations.
It should be Africa’s economic hub. Being one of the world’s leading oil producers, the country should uproot corruption and direct a bigger chunk of the foreign earnings to expansion of scientific research and university education.
Brain drain in Africa represents the tallest paradox and the biggest of all ironies. The continent that is heavily endowed with natural resources and is brain studded, suffers from a mass exodus of the finest brains who seek greener pastures. The opposite should be true.
The proposal by Dr. Agbu to a BBC reporter is one exciting solution. He suggests the FIFA model in approaching brain drain.
According to FIFA rules, if an African player is trained by a local club and then joins a rich European club, his original club gets a fee. It also receives a fee every time he is transferred.
African states should be paid by richer nations for the African scientists they recruit. Their technological advancements are partly associated with the enormous input by African scientists.
Robust economic recovery strategies, zero tolerance to corruption, increase of power generation potential and heavy investment in science and research are the way forward and baits for the African scientists in Diaspora.
Patriotism and self sacrifice by the African scientists, who are the major target of the developed economies, is also worth consideration.