By Morris Mabior Awikjokdit
Why and how did Africa drop from first to last?
The brain drain in Africa is the movement of intellectuals in different professions and careers such as law, medicine, engineering and many others from Africa to other continents for standard education. The motive behind this is the low education standard, economic depreciation and the mentality loitering in the African minds that success is impossible without travelling to the West.
However, if Africa continues losing the very people it needs most for economic, social, scientific and technical progress, it is predicted that, in 25-30 years, Africa will be empty of brains because we have been losing professionals each year since the early 90s up to the present moment. And young people, who are supposed to serve as Africa’s next generation of brains, have not been spared as they continue to leave the continent each year to advance their studies and only a few come back home.
Migration of African professionals to the West is one of the greatest obstacles to Africa’s development, because of the little return we get from the higher education investment due to the failure of returning home after studies and almost all our institutes are highly depending on foreign expertise.
There is nothing wrong with Africans going to study abroad, but failing to return home to serve their continent and empower the present and future generations is the problem. The perception that Africa is poor should not be an excuse; we are the second largest after Asia and one of the wealthiest continents in terms of mineral resources. Yet! Africa has little share of global scientific output and this has been greatly contributing to poverty. Why are we not the richest still remains the question?. Some will say because we are not well educated due to the lack of access to proper education. Others put the blame on colonialism, corruption, armed conflict and inappropriate policies of funding partners.
Our professionals especially the younger generation should also be thinking of Africa’s situation and sacrifice to invest or return home, so that we can retain the high percent of our professionals whilst the upcoming ones rely on them.
Youth Matters this week caught up with Yusupha Touray, the director of Planning and Research at the Ministry of Higher Education, Research Science and Technology, and asked him to share his opinion with our readers on this growing phenomenon affecting most developing countries. He observed that Africa’s brains are drained because of intellectual failure of staying to develop it.
He said the three contending models with regard to the evolution of modern man, all converged at a single point saying our great ancestors first lived in Africa and later migrated to other continents such as America, Asia, Australia and Europe. “They differ on a few points; whether the first migrants continued to evolve into modern man or they were replaced by later migrants from Africa and if the second, then it started outside Africa, both pointing to the conclusion that Africa is the origin of other races.”
Touray however, revealed that Africa has the world’s richest concentration of strategic minerals and gems like; chromium, platinum, in Southern Africa and vanadium for high tech industries, uranium and gold lying side by side in South Africa, much more oil production South Sudan, the asbestos and nickel in Zimbabwe, the kimberlitic pipes, that are the main source of gems and industrial diamonds spreading all over South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Angola, Ghana and Zaire. He then made reference to the list of cobalt and coal deposits in Nigeria, the petroleum reserves in North Africa, Cameroon, Gabon, Congo, Angola and other impoverished sub-Saharan countries and as well, the iron deposits and current petroleum prospects in Western Africa. But with all these resources, we still can’t make it, he complained. “We need to shine our eyes for Africa!” he told the youth.
He also told Youth Matters that ‘we are now in a liberal world of competition in development and only the most developed countries can afford to pay more’. This he observed, is a contributing factor to brain drain in Africa adding that the few intellectuals are not enough to educate our youth, thus the need to maintain outsiders so as to support the cream of our continent. Touray also highlighted that Africa should invest more on knowledge because it keeps the world’s economy. He went on to recommend that, we train more brains and find out ways of keeping them in order to kill the low percentage of returns after a high investment in education. “Africans in the Diaspora can still help in developing the continent” he added, suggesting that they can partner with their countries and help to develop them as well share their brains which can only be achieved if they love Africa.
Making reference to a few African writers, Touray stated that sometime in 2006, Bloom and others declared in their articles that 30% of highly trained Africans from our universities are in the Diaspora. With this, he acknowledged that brain drain has affected Africa more, especially the sub-Saharan part. “Colonialism also has great effects on our development, because all the developed continents concentrated in nurturing the brains of their citizens, whilst we were not able to provide that platform for our people on time. But now that our leaders are trying to develop the African minds, it will transform our continent to become the best”.
Quoting Kofi Annan, a former UN Secretary General, who has visualized the university as the remedy to Africa’s poverty which he got right, Touray then urged people to work together by coping with the available resources and make our continent better, as no one is coming to develop it for us. He however, maintained that understanding Africa will also help us achieve our goals stressing the need for both food for the body and food for the mind, noting that the nature of food for the mind is a bit thrilling and these are strings of information that the mind needs to understand the nature of things, i.e. education system, news, movies among others.
“However, there is hope for Africa, but as Africans we must take charge of the steering and redefine our priorities. If the people stand out first in this reprioritization, we will recognize the beauty that lies ahead of us all”.
The author: is a freelance opinion writer and professional experience teacher based in Warrap state- Kuajok. You can reached him by email: firstname.lastname@example.org or call Awikjokdit on +211914400304