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Tuesday, 21 December, 1999, 10:25 GMT
Should Africa tolerate the brain drain?
Every year, thousands of qualified doctors, lawyers, architects and other professionals leave Africa for the west. They are tempted by significantly higher wages and brighter prospects.

News and Information for Africa
But this brain drain is costing Africa dear. The departure of qualified professionals leaves the continent poorer, and holds back development. Universities turn out graduates, only to see them take their skills abroad.

In Zimbabwe, Namibia and South Africa, for example, the flight of doctors has been so overwhelming that they have had to recruit hundreds of Cuban doctors to fill the gap.

Should this be tolerated any longer, or should African governments prevent professionals from leaving the continent? Perhaps they should be required to work in their home countries for ten years before being allowed to leave.

Maybe they should be required to pay some form of compensation before they go. Is limiting such personal freedom a recipe for disaster? Tell us what you think.

A selection of your emails will be broadcast on Focus on Africa during the 1705 edition on Saturday.

Now, I understand why, 180 years ago, several of my human relations sold themselves into New World then suffer a small-scale, non-literate, stone-age existence in their homelands. Today, if the modern countries of Asia, Europe, the America's open their shores to all comers - Africa would lose 60% of its human population in less than 5 years.
Keith F. Macon, USA

The solution lies in the emergence of the Leader who understands that the ONLY ideas, not the guns, can move whole societies forward. And ideas are buried in the brains of the INTELLIGENSIA. Look everywhere in our beloved continent AFRICA, civil war is in every country; Why? Because of illiterate leaders, believe me we have a long way to go, unfortunately.
Koshin Duale Daud MD, Somalia

Professionals deserve to be treated the same world-wide. If Governments in the world agree on a number of measures in dealing with this issue of brain drain in Africa, things might improve. The heart of the matter is that Western countries encourage brain drain because it is good for them. It is part of the big agenda to further destabilise Africa. This is a human rights issue that needs urgent solutions.
Raymond Likupe, USA

I don't think African leaders are serious about getting their professionals back to the country. First of all the treat the expatriate better than their own citizens and another reason why African professionals are reluctant about going home is lack of security. Your salary is not enough to sustain you and your family. We are willing and wanting to go back home. I miss Nigeria and would love to go home someday. For now we will just watch and see, if the politicians are really serious about turning the country around, maybe there is hope, that is all we all have to hold on to for now.
Agnes Agwu, USA, Nigeria

Africa has not and will never foster an environment for talented people to reach their full potential. It is not a case of blatant self-interest that makes people leave. It is simply an acknowledgement that life in Africa today is corrupt, unsafe, and limited in possibilities and opportunities.
Brett Stewart, USA

The brain drain exists because the English language, the jet plane, and the Internet have created a global market for skilled professionals. Particularly distressing is the phenomenon of non-whites who are leaving their native continent. Apart from reforms in the vital areas that many readers have indicated, the outlook for Africa is bleak. Soon the people who train professionals will also emigrate. At that point the brain drain will stop, because the "professionals" of Africa will no longer be able to find employment in other countries.
Edwin de Kock, USA

The point is most African countries are not interested in keeping their intellectuals/professionals. The reason is because the government's fear that one day these people would be dangerous and would start analysing and questioning the governments they live under. So tell me which of these African countries is willing to have such challengers? Secondly, why should a government make restriction to his professionals, so that he can keep them within the country if this government is not in the position to provide them the basic human rights?
Saba Amanuel , Germany

How do Africans government expects to keep professionals at home when they keep killing them whenever there's a disagreement with there policies. Case in Point LIBERIA.
Mack Jouridine, USA

If the South African government forces departing professionals to pay back its portion of their education costs, then it should, in turn, pay compensation to those people for all that they have lost by way of burglary, fraud, and other crime which is the government's duty to control. Although earnings are better abroad, money is seldom the only or main motivation for leaving.
Melody Forrest, England

If African governments don't do what Great Britain did in the late 60s and early 70s to make staying at home pleasant and rewarding, the brain drain will continue unchallenged. The driving force is indeed more powerful than the force pulling professionals and others away from Africa. Take Sudan as an example, anybody who is forced to leave has only and only two choices: a) join SPLA with it's numerous factions; or take up a job under the existing fundamental Islamic Regime and follow their political philosophy. b) Leave the country to an uncertain destination.
Ket Goach, Sudanese in USA

Brain drain is simply the practical application of free market economic principles to professionalism. It is a pragmatic approach to social de-regulation and it is not a bad thing in itself. The only regret is that the students in the affected continent will not receive the best tutelage possible and this leads to further social decay. The solution lies in the emergence of visionary leaders who understand that only ideas, not guns, can move a society forward. And ideas are buried in the brains of the intelligentsia.
Benji Nwosu, MD, USA

This is a very touchy issue because it cuts through the most painful nerve centre of my soul. I was born a Nigerian, a real Nigerian, born and bred in the village, to parents who never had the opportunity to go to school but extremely value western education. They did all they could to send all of us (10) to school, once had to give out a part of our family cocoa plantation as surety for a loan to pay my brother's school fees. Well, I was fortunate, moved through school like a rocket and was already a "Doctor" at the age of 22! But then I got too interested in books and the ways of books, decided to go into research. I ended up being a "lecturer" in the University where my salary was not enough to feed my family without having to default on the house rent! But I decided to go on, after all it was my choice. I soon got a scholarship to do research in Europe and was exposed to the wonders of genetic engineering. I became a voracious learner, learned everything that was there to learn. I started dreaming of a heroic return home, confident I was well equipped to meaningfully contribute to solving the problems that appear to be perpetually associated with my country. I looked ahead and thought an end would come to those highly-dreaded diseases in the nearest future. Alas, I was wrong, I returned to a country that was not ready for me.

The money allocated to my department in all the years I was away was only enough to buy office stationery and getting the right kind of water to do the simplest of experiments was almost totally impossible. I looked round and saw everyone laughing at me: I was foolish to have returned, people of my kind are somewhere in Europe or the United States and they're publishing in the best of journals in their fields. But I chose to stay and see things change in spite of all odds. And then it dawned on me that if I continued in my stubborn patriotism I may not be able to give to my child what my parents gave to me, good education. To make things worse, my parents are now aged, with no life or retirement insurance whatsoever, our culture makes me their insurance policy! And now I got a new job in Texas, where I am to receive the dollar equivalent of what my total salary in Nigeria for the next three years will be in just a month! Now, should I stay or should I go? If I choose to go, any legal restriction preventing me from going must first consider what will happen to the future of my child. My parents had something to use as a surety to get loan to educate us. What do I have to sell if I must educate my own child with a loan? This is the question this law must first address!
Wole, Ibadan, Nigeria

If Africa is experiencing brain drain, it is her fault. If you look around the continent, it is trouble and poor leadership. In some countries in Africa, for example Nigeria, you are safer being a foreigner than a citizen living in another part of the country other than your tribal home land. This accounts to why many easterners lost their lives in 1966, and also the rececnt ethnic killings of Yorubas and Hausas in the country. Most African leaders will clean out the treasury, for export to foreign lands. Their citizens wallow in abject poverty, while they use the peoples' money in aiding the developement of other countries. It also seems the Armed Forces are more abusive to their people than foreigners, especially in a military government. African professionals migrate for better enviroment. Who wants to be killed, or languish in poverty? I will cite my case as an example before ending this write up.

I returned to Nigeria in December 1982, after a M.S. degree in Agriculture in the United States. I was bonded to the Imo State government for two years as they financed my graduate studies. This meant that I was to work in the state's civil service for at least two years upon return home and completion of my national youth service. I played all my parts, but the government did not. I finished my studies, returned home, and did my national youth service. When in March, 1984, I was ready to join the civil service, to my utmost disbeleive I was discharged from my bond at time most branches of the government had embargo on employment. Infact the military regime in power then was about to comence mass retrenchment in the civil service. The private sector was stagnant because the military government sealed off the borders, banned all foreign currencies, and was contemplating on barter trade. I was unemployed for ten months after which I found something doing in my feild, but the job was overtaken by the structural adjustment program in 1986.

It is important to note that while I was in graduate school, I did not receive any scholarship money. It was misappropriated by the Nigerian Consulate in San Francisco, California, United States. They paid me half of the money after I had graduated, and taken up the non payment with them. It took a threat in 1986 by the then Imo State governor, Navy Captian Allison Madueke before the other half was paid me. I raise my thumb up for Madueke, because he is the kind of leaders Africa needs. I tried other means of recovery of the money, inculding long drawn requests by the Public Complaints Commission, and Madueke's predecessor. All were futile. I brain drained to the United States in 1987 with my outstanding scholarship payment. This is money that should have been paid me in 1980, but paid after six years. I am not the only case out there. Many Nigerian scholars faced the same situation in the 70's and 80's, including those been sponsored by their parents.
Charles O. Okereke, Nigeria

This debate is usually entertaining but frutiless. A country by definition is simply a geographic entity where a group of people choose to live for all sorts of reasons. When any of these reasons cease to matter, one has a right, in fact an obligation to make the necessary adjustments for one's own continous survival. It is as simple as that. That is why sometime artificial countries are created (e.g. Israel, US) and the people who live there set down rules, laws and conditions to enable them to survive, as individuals and as a group. It is these rules, laws and conditions which subject to the collective will that defines who the people are, or what they want to be. Show me one single country in Africa with some of these fundamental conditions, enshrined and enforced and I will tell if there will be mass migration or not.
Baaban-Aisha Nagida, Ghana

Believe me, if the national cake were shared equitably, professionals will be more than willing to enjoy the comfort of a 'home' and work towards its improvement. But what is the point in working tirelessly for peanuts when some illiterate leaders are stashing the monies away in their private bank accounts. We still have a long way to go, unfortunately.
Nana Yaw, MPhil, Ghana

After reading some of the comments here I think there is a consensus that people leave because on one main reason. The other reasons stem from that reason: Government and leadership, or rather the lack of those things or accountable and un-corrupt versions of it. In the case of Ghana this is made worse by the fact that despite having been born in the UK ,so I can hold a British passport of parents who are both indigenous Ghanaians in every way, I have a problem with a government or better still it's leader (as the so called democratic government apparatus down to the judiciary are totally subserviant to any wishes of his). Here is someone who may have trouble presenting the same credentials as telling me a 100% Ghanaian in origins that I cannot hold a dual citizenship (despite having partly grown up and schooled in Ghana) and serve Ghana as I see fit (which is a wish like many others) but has the temerity and audacity to tell Black Americans (no offence meant) some of who in the US discriminate against our fellow Africans in the US, that they can have passports and citizenship of Ghana. Why because they are superior or is it because the Black American leaders are the only people who show some 'respect' towards the president of Ghana when his own people in the country don't? I wonder why indeed. The issue is not what can be done to those who leave but to those who make them.
Kojo L, UK

I believe everybody loves her country of origin. There is special tie that you have, whether you are intellectual or not. African Intellectuals, unfortunately, are not in a position to share this love and ties. The basic reason, I believe, is not that of payment as most of us thought. The African politicians who hang over on power by bullet are the main problem and hindrance. I remember my country´s, Ethiopia, tragedy and bloodshed in 1977- 1982. The military dictators have vanished thousands of intellectuals killed on the street of Addis Ababa. Most of them are now in Northern America and Western Europe as university professors or corporate managers. Recently the present government on power has expelled over 40 university teachers and professors and many other intellectuals from their work. They are abandoned of their basic rights, to work and live in their country. These intellectuals are now, most of them in US Universities, teaching and researching in foreign countries. These example is true for most of African countries. There is no guarantee for an intellectual to live peacefully, to utter her opinion on societal issues. If then only what supports the people on the power. The absence of this elementary but very basic condition makes us to flee away in an strange culture, in very new environment. Given this problem, I think, the question of brain drain is not the one that we must perceive in a classical sense. The African voracious and politicians who lack Freudian psychology, the military and the radical leftists, and most recently the ethnocentrists and fundamental islamists are the major problems. The west has also no clean hand. I hope the current leaders might get lesson from Emperor Menelik II and Haile Selassie of Ethiopia, The Great Nelson Mandela of South Africa, Bismark of Germany, W. Churchil of Britain and Japanese Emperor of 19th Century. That lesson goes like this: truely love your people and your country, do not cheat and lie and be honest, work hard and be exemplary to your dependants, do not kill human being, know that each intellectual is an asset that needs long period to accumulate and the return is very high. Sadly this fundamental African problem is not OAU agenda as a matter of priority. Let´s not sleep! Last, not least, I thank BBC for this very constructive discussion forum.
Getachew Bekele, Germany(Ethiopian)

Africa occupies just as much land as USA or Europe. Africa has more natural resources than the other 2. Major problems Africa face today...
Population
Aids
Illiteracy
Corruption
Laziness
African leaders are faced with tough choices to make. For instance.... a poor country getting aid usually has a tough time trying to decide whether to stick to Donors suggestions on local policies or trying to meet the locals needs. African countries need leaders with visions for their respective countries, not businessmen. I do not blame those who move to greener pastures trying to accumulate as much as they can. After all , "those who die with more, wins" (Celine Dion). Yes, we need not to neglect our poor Nations. May be we can try to utilise other means for instance exploring the "Modernization Theory". Since I came here in the USA, I have observed so many short comings (African). However am under age... according to my countries constitution for Presidency.
Future President of The Republic of Malawi... Patrick Marcello Jnr Malawi

I was born in the UK. Raised in Nigeria and never had the inclination to live abroad until about 8 years ago when everything started to collapse. Over the last few years I have witnessed my Dad's professional Auditing business collapse completely. He who did not want we to leave begged me to stay away. He educated five of us and extended family relations from his earnings but at the twilight of his life, the least I can do is to support him. How else can I do that, earning peanuts? I have no regrets leaving, but I also know that I will return one day.I am fully informed about the current state of Affairs in Nigeria through the Web, even more informed that people in Nigeria. Most of us in my generation have an attitude, keep one in and one leg out.
Ade Odey, Luxembourg

Most of the comments on this subject seem to centre around the same thing, frustration of the professionals in their countries of origin by their political systems. As a matter of fact, it is not that professionals would so much like to leave but circumstances push them out. To give but one example, a parent who finds his son whom he educated to the university level not being in a position to do what a person who dropped out at primary level but is well connected can do is hard to convince. This ends up putting a lot of stress on such an individual who is more than willing to go to a place where rarely will such kind of thing happen. So let us not blame the professionals but the systems which make them look like they would have been better of if they never went to school but found good patronage.
Kariuki Nderitu, Kenya

This issue is not a matter of freedom of movement only. It goes beyond and African governments should either respect all basic human rights including the right of speech and press, and reasonable payments for professionals or else allow the professionals to go. The professionals in turn should be able to reconcile and be able to work in their country in a fair salary.
Aaron., Eritrean (in Canada).

People leave due to hard conditions brought to them by outsiders. Africa is not growing due to heavy debts and Imposed IMF-styled conditions which are:
1. Cutting spending, freezing recruitment and choking business
2. Abandoning economic policies that nature local industries and enable create employment.
3.Privatisation of public assets and bringing in foreign experts that dwindles employment opportunity.
4. Propping up dictators by donor country making life unsafe for professionals who would question the behavior of rulers.
However many people in Europe are also migrating to USA and Canada
Laboke, Uganda

I believe that though those professionals taught in countries such as Zimbabwe and South Africa should be grateful for their fortunate education, they do have the right to choose a safer place where they wish to work, live and raise a family. If the governments of these countries were more concerned about this topic instead of lining their wallets or maintaining their armouries, there wouldn't be such a problem. The streets would be far safer and the environments would be less racially orientated.
Leigh, Zimbabwe/UK

In my estimation, our impulse to depart our native countries is very much that of man's primitive instinct for security: physical security; economic security; and the assurance that one can age in a safe environment where food security, and 'social security' are givens and not luxuries.
Patrick Kagbeni Muana, USA/Sierra Leone

The brain drain in Africa is as a result of the greed and maladministration of African leaders. Africa has enough to sustain all Africans that we actually don't have any need to go abroad. However, the greed and nepotism of African leaders make it difficult if not impossible for those who are not connected to eke out their minimal comfort in various African societies. It is also important to note that colonialism and imperialism are still present in Africa today. This is in the form of various neo-colonial policies of countries of the North (Industrialized countries) who under the guise of financial assistance (loans and grants) make any meaningful development in Africa impossible. This is should be appreciated for what it is - attempts to perpetually keep Africa down and exploit its human potentials. They are not after the (human) dregs of African societies but after the intellectuals and other professionals.

Those leaving Africa should not really be blamed if their intention is to make life better for themselves and then come back home. But if it is to perpetually stay away, then they should be blamed. They are being re-colonized (now mentally and physically). It is tragic that those societies in which they are wasting their lives and youth do not have anything for them no matter how successful they think they can be in that society. Notwithstanding their 'success' they are still looked down upon and not really regarded as human beings and cannot be given the same respect that is due to them in Africa.

It should be realized that in everything, it is the need to actualize oneself that drove (and has continued to drive) people away from their countries to other places. If African leaders can realize this and provide the neccessary environment, Africans will come home or remain at home to develop Africa. In the absence of that, it will be business as usual. Who can conscientiously blame a professional in an unstable country to go away to where he can at least feel safe and be free to carry on his duties. Go to Liberia, Sierra Leone, Angola, Rwanda, Somalia, etc and you will appreciate what it is to live in an unstable country. Then and only then, will you appreciate that most professionals are forced to leave Africa.

Africa is a good place with good potentials. You can only appreciate that when you leave Africa; when you have tasted tasteless beef and chicken as distinct from the very tasty ones you eat in Africa; when you must have lived in an uncaring and selfish world where all that matters is self and personal interest; when you must have suffered all the discrimination with which these so called advanced countries are known for; when you are relegated to a third class citizen; and when you must have been kicked or battered by a white police officer. Africans leaving Africa are not happy to be leaving. But when you are faced with two options - the devil or the deep blue sea, you just have to choose one. It is either you follow the devil and leave Africa to and uncaring, oppressive and exploitative developed country or you swim in the deep blue sea of Africa, hoping that mother luck (nay Africa) will smile at you and give you peace. But then you still have to contend with the mindless rebels. It has always been a hard option.
Shedrack Agbakwa, Canada

To Serena Simonson I say: try and live in a country or city that has as two of its features the highest murder and rape rates in the world. A recent statistic stated that 1 out of every 2 women will be raped in South Africa. Would you feel safe in that sort of environment. Its always been easy for the rest of the world to comment on SA's ills, but try and live there for awhile. While the South African govt. continues to ignore the real problems at hand, the brain drain will continue.
Carlos Da Silva, Ex-Johannesburg, now Dublin

I believe that we all must appreciate that each us us have a responsibility. To admit that we were all mostly born into environments which offered limited educational opportunities to the mass of its citizens, then one must also recognize that the educational opportunity that you received is virtually a gift from God. As such you have an obligation to utilize this education to create the environment that provides greater opportunities for the others behind you. As one would say " stop the belly-acking" no one said it would be easy. Stop blaming the politicians, warlords, dictators and bandits and lets us all resolve to take back what is rightfully ours. Our countries! remember part of the reason why you leave your countries, is because you have a choice. You most likely was one of the top performers in your class. However, also don't forget, the people you leave behind to run your country usually were at the bottom of the class. They lack the capacity ever to rectify the problem. The world is changing, many things in the past also impacted what happened in our respective countries; much of it virtually beyound our control. However, let's begin to recognize the new opportunities that are emerging for improved governance and exploit these opportunities. Remember, to find blame for our collective/respective plight is easy because there is sufficient blame to go around. Unfortunately, that will solve nothing. We must talk all resolve to take action. And that action must be rooted in our recognition of our responsibilities to our families. Because Africa, and the abundance that she has to offer belongs to all of us, including our generations yet unborn.
Natty, Liberia

I find that security rather than economic stability although they seem to go hand in hand, remains the reason for leaving Africa. In it a very unsafe continent.
Jideobu Onayemi MSc, England

I see that many professionals leave Africa for the brighter opportunities offered abroad, complaining that Africa is too corrupt, and needs better skilled politicians. But I wonder how Africa can ever be expected to improve if the majority of qualified individuals leave for a brighter future, while Africa is left with only the less qualified, or the few qualified individuals who try to make a difference. If all of Africa's professionals would stay in Africa, they could make a difference, and the conditions in Africa would improve. Don't expect it to miraculously better itself, while you are living abroad.
Serena Simonson, USA

I don't think anybody in their right senses will live their family and move to a foreign land to reside. The situation in Africa is forcing its entire professional population out. The government doesn't care about it. The more professionals and intelligent people that move out, the better their chances of looting the continent. If the African government wants to retain its professionals they should create the environment and the old people that ruined the continent should leave or put the continent first before their own lives.
Chris Idehen, USA

We must not be quick to criticise, especially those of us who have been out of our home countries for a long time. I left Nigeria two years ago, and let me tell you, times are hard. Staying at home or returning home is a large sacrifice for those that have the opportunity to chose. People love their countries, but man cannot live on patriotism alone. I have seen doctors and lawyers who are struggling to feed their families. Some are stubborn and continue on in the struggle, but others look at their children and wives and know that they must go. I will return, not because there is something there in store for me, but because my love for my people will be stronger than the pain of struggling for survival. The force that drives us must be stronger than the force that pulls us away.
Rhoda Nanre Nafziger, Nigeria

In the past three years, I've desperately tried to find a way of settling back in my country after a rather successful 17 years of western experience in UK and US. It has been very difficult to make that move for lack of security and lack a defined future and stability for my country. I have many friends who share my predicaments. I have benefited from the vast wealth of America and now I miss my country and would like to return and make contributions in the private sector but it is left for the politicians to make home safe enough for people like me to bring home our contributions to the economy of Nigeria. But (unlike Patric Henry), even the love of country is not sufficient for me to give my only life to armed robbers all over the streets of Nigeria.
Michael Nnebe, Nigeria

HAVE YOUR SAY


African professionals leave not just because of the better pay in the west but mainly because they find rest from a restive and corrupt continent.

Obeahon Aires, Nigeria
I don't think it is human nature for one to leave his country and his people for a foreign land. African professionals leave not just because of the better pay in the west but mainly because they find rest from a restive and corrupt continent. Take Nigeria for example, we have no reason at all to leave, but because of corruption and the political instability, you can't blame anyone for leaving.
Obeahon Aires, Nigeria

We will only retain professionals in Africa if the African leadership become professional politicians. All professionals want to be recognised and where else other than sweet home.
Ousman Kalis, The Gambia

I have witnessed very bright people from India leaving for West. Initially, the driving force is to be with the best in their chosen field. But later it becomes the good working conditions and better standards of living, besides a natural tendency to calculate their earnings in their native currency.
Vijay Ojha, UK


Everyone who is against moving back home should be ashamed of themselves.

Lere Lawal, Nigeria
Everyone who is against moving back home should be ashamed of themselves. I was born in Nigeria, but I grew up in America. And let me tell you I miss home every single day for the last seventeen years. I believe we have yet to see the best of Africa. One good solution will be to start getting rid of all the old fools ruling Africa and give Africa a younger feel to it .
Lere Lawal, Nigeria

I would return home in a flash, if the present situation in South Africa favoured a really conducive environment for ALL races to work together, but I find the reversal non-beneficial to my skills.
Richard, South Africa / England

The brain drain is a result of corrupted governments leading African nations. The heads of state have one objective, take as much money as possible before my time runs out. This usually stems from the fact that they come from poor background and leading the nation leads to access to millions. I believe the only way we can stop the drain is if the people who leave their countries go back, with their knowledge and experience, and lead their people.
Lawrence Ching'anda, UK

Similar to foreign capital investment, success in attracting high quality human capital (skilled people) will be determined by the ability to pay a) a sufficiently high monetary price (which ensures an adequate standard of living) and b) offer an enabling environment, i.e. crime free society, good education system, strong judicial system, etc (which contributes to a good quality of life), of higher standard than that offered by other countries.
Africa's abject failure (and unfortunately South Africa's current failing) in fulfilling both of these requirements, is of course, the main reason for the flight of skills. Restrictions placed on migration are unlikely to work as it is highly questionable whether African governments have the managerial capacity (are they competent) to enforce such controls.
Paul Clark, South Africa

The question to ask is why this is happening? In most cases, professionals are being mistreated. We spend a long time in school and yet when you finish, you do not get a job easily because of bureaucracy, again working conditions are not conducive and lastly the pay is low.
There is also a lot of interference by politicians in professional issues. In my opinion, pay package alone is not a major factor for brain drain, conducive working environment and proper government policies are important.
Dr Faustine Ndugulile, Tanzania


No-one believes in the place and they are voting with their feet.

Robey, Australia
Isn't that strange? Are we saying that things have got worse since the Colonials were thrown out? Isn't that what the Colonials said would happen? No-one believes in the place and they are voting with their feet.
Robey, Australia

I believe the reason why these professionals are leaving their home land is because the think working at home is like serving the government and not the people. No one can force them to work in their motherland but only their love for their own people.
Wolde Yohannes, Ethiopia

Unfortunately governments such as that in Zimbabwe have made a mockery of everything they claim to have fought for. Who would put their professional and personal lives in the care of a government who treats their people with such cynical contempt
Stewart Roper, UK

Picture this. On the one hand you get discrimination against local professionals in favour of "foreign experts", nepotism, corruption, human rights abuses, no rule of law, red tape, state led crime, distrust of "foreign trained professionals" by the locals who do not want competition...the list goes on and on.
On the other hand you have an environment in which to freely thrive to the best of one's ability. No prizes for guessing what I want for my family. Incidentally I ventured back to Africa after I graduated and the year that I spent was enough to make me sceptical about relocating to some of these countries currently being touted as "economic miracles". I for now am staying put and frankly, do not have any qualms about my decision.
Martin, UK


It seems strange to me that doctors trained in Africa where their skills are most needed to help their own people, turn their back on them for money.

Chris Haynes, UK
It seems strange to me that doctors trained in Africa where their skills are most needed to help their own people, turn their back on them for money. One way to stop this would be to introduce a scheme, that if you left within 10 years you would have to pay the full cost of all your training.
Chris Haynes, UK

Tertiary education throughout Africa is heavily subsidised by governments. Those professionals who leave to improve themselves or their situation forget that their potential to do this comes from this education, not simply their own hard work. Like it or not, they do owe a debt to their country.
Craig Stewart, South Africa

There have been many opinions, published at least, that suggest the professionals leaving should pay back the expense. In theory I do not have a problem with that except for the fact that applying that logic, the parents of the professional should be able to claim back from the government the taxes they paid for 30 or so years. Every obligation has a right attached to it.
If I pay taxes, I have the right that my children will have access to an education. If they are to pay for their education which in fact I will end up paying for anyway, they why should I pay taxes to support the education system in the first place. "Put a wall in our way and we will find the way of going around it" and that it is not Platos it is just me.
Pier Chiti, Argentina

I strongly believe in the power of one, each individual must make a stand and be counted in the development of his/her country. So people should stop whining and get on with the programme i.e. make changes at home!
Ute Norman, Togo


If Africa became once more a safe area in which to raise ones family, not so many graduates would leave!

Dr June Alexander, UK
I am a professional who has chosen to reverse the trend by returning to the developing world. Although in Singapore at present, I have worked for many years in Africa. The Professionals in the developing countries see the "First World" as a city paved in gold, but the reality frequently is very different. Allowing the free transfer of people, in whatever direction, should be encouraged.
John Atkins, Singapore

The blame is not on the shoulders of the professional whatsoever. These folks are just trying to better their lives. I mean if you give all your effort to a corrupted government, with day after day unstable situations occurring, you are going to feel that your time and energy has been wasted. I don't want to give my knowledge back to the people. That would only come when, if ever, we have a government by the people and for the people.
Gardefle Ismail Elmi, USA, ex Somalia


I can understand why they leave. But the Africa governments should make them stay and work for two years so the African governments may have a brighter future.

Allison, UK
I believe many professionals will prefer to live in their own country as respected citizens, contributing and helping their motherland, rather than live as "aliens" and face racism, discrimination and others uphill struggles against the natives.
S. Bezabeh, Ethiopian/USA

There is a "world-market" for professionals and bright people will go wherever their career aspirations are best served. We have to remember that people who meet such exacting standards are very few in numbers and can hopefully be replaced by others. African institutions deserve credit for developing people of such high calibre whilst operating under very difficult conditions.
Kalwant Ajimal, England

Like so many things, market forces drive the brain drain. You cannot blame African professionals for leaving their country to work in better-paid and more favourable conditions, where their talent will be handsomely rewarded. It is difficult to see how the African nations can compete with this.
David Green, England


A doctor earns 900 Birr per month in Ethiopia, which is equivalent to $110 US. A doctor earns around $3000+ on average in the United States. Now you tell me where you want to live.

NG Bisrat, USA
African professionals abroad often retain a link with their country of origins. In nations where ruling parties and their favoured cliques dominate every aspect of society, it is important that there should be centres that are slightly autonomous. The large communities of Nigerians, Ghanaians, Congolese etc, have helped served as a corrective for some of the possible extremists of the dictatorial elite's on the continent.
Sousa Jamba, UK

While movement of trained personnel out of a country is derivative, the potential exposure to different working conditions, resources and professional environments can be of advantage to the said country, should it be able to recall them when the need arises. Many a physician, economist etc, has been asked back to his country of origin to bring in expertise gained in new working areas.
George Oloo, Kenya


Well let's see... Get rid of violent crime, pay the professionals a decent wage, and they'll most likely stay. Next question.

Ben Dair, USA
Restricting the movement of the intellectuals may fringe their human rights but they have to be ready to pay back all the expenditures incurred on them by the state during the course of their studies. This could be ensured through collaterals and other modalities if seriously explored.It is one thing to get almost free education and another thing not to repay back when given the chance.
Hadush Fitsum, Ethiopia

I would also like to commend those who become professionals abroad then go back and serve in their home countries. I know I did not have the same opportunities I have over here, but I believe with the experience I am acquiring here I can go back home and help create opportunities to help entice our people to stay put.
Miriam Mutizwa, Zimbabwean in USA

Being a Professional abroad, I guess I have to hold my hands up, however, the prospects for career development in the west cannot be ignored. Governments in Africa should create more incentives for people to stay at home and for others to return. A stable political situation would also encourage people to stay and invest in their own countries. Many Governments are too corrupt. Mismanagement of funds is a key element in the scarcity of resources available to properly address this very serious issue.
Adetunji Ajayi, UK


Erecting legal barriers to the emigration of educated professionals will only encourage illegal emigration and discourage bright Africans from seeking to better themselves through education in the first place.

Rath Andor, USA
Erecting legal barriers to the emigration of educated professionals will only encourage illegal emigration and discourage bright Africans from seeking to better themselves through education in the first place. Great Britain had a problem like this in the 1960s-1970s; hundreds of thousands of educated and ambitious British left for America and other countries. This brain drain was halted not by forbidding emigration, but by enacting necessary economic reforms that made staying at home rewarding for educated Britons. Africa must do the same. There is no alternative.
Rath Andor, USA

As long as striving to lead a safer, more prosperous life remains a paramount desire among humans, there will be an incessant "brain drain" from unsafe, poorer countries into safer, wealthier ones. If African governments want to retain their professionals, they should focus on economic development, not pouring resources in fighting savage wars that have no real objectives. I speak as a Liberian who survived Charles Taylor's brutal war. As long as the continent is not war-free and rampant corruption is not curtailed, Africa, it seems, is doomed.
Albert Bennah, USA

I don't think the African governments care that much about their own professional citizens. In many cases I see African governments paying big salaries to foreign expatriates for the same job their citizens can do. The politicians in the continent don't have confidence in their own professional people.
A. Yohannes, USA

I think that African governments should not in any way prevent professionals from leaving their countries. I think that, is it they who in the first place force these people to leave. They should encourage them to stay, stop corruption (a big factor in causing this problem), listen and respect all groups of people especially the young, (until now only the old are seen as wise... this MUST stop) and give them jobs. We have a lot to contribute to our continent, but our leaders don't see that. Though poor, the continent has a lot to offer, but management/leadership generally is poor. Change this, and you get a prosperous continent in all areas. I am ready to return if I see changes taking place!
Doug, UK


It is up to the home country to create an environment that encourages these people to stay. It is not the professionals fault that they want a better life

Matt, Ireland
It is up to the home country to create an environment that encourages these people to stay. It is not the professionals fault that they want a better life. Forcing them to spend x amount of years working there before they emigrate will only make people bitter and thus want to never go back. The countries in question have to address the problem of "What makes their country an undesirable place to work in?"
Matt, Ireland

What a fascist attitude! Force the professionals at gunpoint to stay in a country that penalises success! Socialism is bad and success is good. The only thing that will save Africa is real-American style property rights. This is the only way to accumulate wealth: Protect everyone's right to have it and your economy will grow. Steal wealth in the name of redistribution and the good that are forced to stay will produce only enough to get by. It is human nature.
Jim Stevens, USA

Of course people should be able to travel to find a better quality of life; if someone has worked hard for a professional qualification it is only natural that they will want to reap the rewards. Hopefully Britain will gain from an influx of African IT contractors; we indigenous workers are making sure we've moved off-shore before the Government's anti-competitive high-tax IR35 legislation becomes law in April.
Richard Bufton, Great Britain

Perhaps it should be made compulsory for despotic politicians to leave and for countries receiving the ill-gotten gains of Africa's politicians to return the funds to the home country. Then well-qualified professionals would be willing to stay and help build a better future for all.
Paul Malan, UK


I left my home country ten years ago to work in Europe, but I found it such a competitive, stressed-out and unfriendly place that I came back two years later, and have not regretted it at all.

Dr. Evie Jaculata, Nigeria
Requiring professionals to pay some form of compensation is not a viable option, as unlike here in the West, the Governments in Africa do not tend to contribute much towards the higher education costs incurred. Most of the cost is borne by the families of those who opt for a further education.
Kola, UK

The governments of Africa do not have the right to make people stay and provide services to their countries. But the doctors and professionals do owe something back to the people for the chance to make something of themselves. They should have a choice of working for several years or paying back the cost of their education.
Darrell Beck, USA

This kind of brain drain should not be tolerated if anyone has any interest in the future development of African countries. However, it is up to the countries themselves to put in the right incentive system (such as tax) to lure its people.
Sophia Cheung, UK

The idea behind continuing one's education, especially to the extent of medicine or law, is to create a good life for one's self. If for the individual in question that means making money then they should be free to do that. If that means remaining in their home country to help the less fortunate then that is their choice, not to be imposed upon them after years of hard work.
Gustaf Nilsson, UK

As a Ghanaian who has lived here for some 15 years and been primarily educated in this country I would encourage people to go back to their country of origin to benefit that nation. I will go back to Ghana in a few years time. I do not see why I should help to forward a country - Britain - that has done nothing but subjugate and try to rob my people of our natural resources. I am going to go back to Ghana to serve my people so that in the next millennium Ghana, and more importantly Africa, will be a significant force to be reckoned with. Prepare yourself folks for the future of a mighty continent.
Adwoa Sarpomaa Date-Bah, Britain

The problem is the fact that there is no security whatsoever in Africa. We blame the west for our problems, I think its high time we face the fact that we are the problem. The professionals should not be made to pay anything, if what they are looking for is right there in their home country, there won't be any need to go anywhere, maybe for holidays. I think there is something wrong with us in Africa.
Adelakun Adetayo, Nigeria

Based on what I've seen, the professionals won't stay on unless corruption is eliminated and compensation is elevated. Only competent governments, working with a relatively stable economy, will be able to make this happen. Why limit personal freedom due to governmental incompetence?
Michael Wilcox, USA


I don't think that it is right to impose a "Graduate Apartheid" on the professionals of a country!

Catherine Ball, UK
You can't stop people trying to build a better life for themselves. The right to emigrate is a basic human right. Otherwise we have a situation like the former Iron curtain countries.
Miland Joshi, UK

I believe that countries receiving trained doctors, and professionals, have not incurred the costs of the training and can therefore pay a high salary should be required to pay for the cost of that training.
John Bulger, England

NO, the African or other sending countries should make no restrictions. The receiving countries should make the restrictions that were suggested like making sure they have worked say 10-15 years after graduating in their home country before being allowed to work in a better pay host country.
I am afraid the Europeans do not understand this problem fully. Also in Asian countries brains are sucked into countries that relatively speaking pay ridiculously low wages but yet more than in the graduating country. This receiving qualification should be universal. Not only applicable to Europe and other industrialised countries.
Mikko Toivonen, Finland


No they should not tolerate this "brain" drain. Keep them all at home and give indigenous peoples a better chance of getting a good job in their own country.

Jez, England
Speaking as an ex south African..... If the South African Govt got serious about solving the domestic crime problems perhaps more young professionals/graduates would be encouraged to stay in the country! I miss SA dearly, but having been personally touched by violent crime, I feel compelled to find a safer environment for myself and my family.
Adrian Pickering, UK

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