BBC Africa recently did a special broadcast on the launching of 3 Pan African Universities/Research Centres on the continent of Africa, precisely in Cameroon, Kenya and Nigeria. This initiative is directly aimed at reversing what I consider (arguably) to be the largest threat to the continent’s demise – not famines, not the unjust exploitation of mineral resources, not even ethnic/religious based wars. Neither am I referring to the exponentially ravaging effect of corruption, and nevermind the moral worsternization.
What is it then? It’s the brain drain- Many leave Africa yearly to become intellectual assets to some countries, that quite frankly could reappropriate the help. You can look at it from many prospectives but here is one of many downsides of brain drain: when the bright minds are exported, on one hand they are forced to watch, albeit from afar and rather tortuously the imbecility of those who stumbled upon power, and are adamant of never letting go. On the other hand, and certainly more pragmatic, as a developing continent seeking to be freed of the neo-colonialism monster by forging paths of TRUE independence and one day soar on its own , the continent of Africa is going to need all the help it can get. And no not FOREIGN AID, but WELCOME BACK HOME AID… Whether it be in the form of industrial, infrastructure, agricultural, and/or academic revolution.
To give you an idea in Statistics – Right out of Wiki-
Conservatively speaking, “Brain drain has cost the African continent over $4 billion in the employment of 150,000 expatriate professionals annually.” According to UNDP, “Ethiopia lost 75 per cent of its skilled workforce between 1980 and 1991,” which harms the ability of such nations to get out of poverty. Nigeria, Kenya and Ethiopia are believed to be the most affected. In the case of Ethiopia, the country produces many excellent doctors, but there are more Ethiopian doctors in Chicago than there are in Ethiopia.
“In our world in which the generation of new knowledge and its application to change the human condition is the engine which moves human society further away from barbarism, do we not have need to recall Africa’s hundreds of thousands of intellectuals back from their places of emigration in Western Europe and North America, to rejoin those who remain still within our shores! I dream of the day when these, the African mathematicians and computer specialists in Washington and New York, the African physicists, engineers, doctors, business managers and economists, will return from London and Manchester and Paris and Brussels to add to the African pool of brain power, to enquire into and find solutions to Africa’s problems and challenges, to open the African door to the world of knowledge, to elevate Africa’s place within the universe of research the information of new knowledge, education and information.”
The Pan African Universities recent launches are a positive initiative, and may I say, a push to get the ball rolling in the right direction disregarding of its naysayers- I personally remain optimistic that under the patronage of the African Union, the consortium of nations involved will pledge that these institutions will steer clear of national woes. For more details on the PAUs, follow this report by Star Africa:
Am I willing to go back?
In the words of a polarizing basketball player: Come this summer I’ll be READY to take my talents to….
And oh yeah, BBC interviewed me of all people- Click HERE for the sound bytes of the live interview FOCUS on The Pan African Universities. (Second half of the Interview) .
“Education isn’t preparation for life, it is life itself” – John Dewey