African scientists on the road back home
Facts on the African brain drain are old or hard to find. One thing is clear, though. Those who are able to travel will expand their professional insights and horizons by doing so. Remains the question whether these people will return back home to share their new knowledge and experiences.
If you are part of that demographic that was fortunate enough to receive a proper education, chances are your eyes will be opened up towards worlds beyond, regardless of your country or financial background. And it goes without saying that if you had that education and your cash is tight, you might want to explore and experience a few of these new worlds from up close.
During recent years, this has happened quite a lot. There are UNESCO reports that cite Africa’s brain drain as a major issue for a few like West Africa’s Burkina Faso but there is more. There are more reasons why so many who had the chance left Africa. For some people, it was financial prospects while for others, it was acquiring knowledge.
There are people who need new ideas, learn about new ways of exploring things, or want to see if they fit into a broader science landscape to later accomplish in their countries of origin. So the brain drain issue is not necessarily a one-way journey. trip. It can also be an interesting round-trip while more and more people don’t feel any need anymore to leave Africa for an education abroad at all. See also this post: The Education Crisis in Africa.
A recent UNESCO report stated, for instance, that since the University of Djibouti was established in 2006, the state has been experiencing a total turnaround. In 2008, the global economic and financial crisis even triggered a brain drain reversal in brain drain. The crisis either was discouraging scientists from emigrating to Europe or America, or they returned home as countries abroad were experiencing economic and financial hardship.
Also, countries like Nigeria have plenty of money to spend on research but many governments choose to spend funds elsewhere. These days, many African returnees are playing key roles in the fields of STI [Science, Technology, and Innovation], economic development, and policy formulation, and even scientists that remain abroad are heavily contributing to research in the countries of origin. To learn more about volunteering in Tanzania, go to this article.
So over the past decade, we’ve seen a change from brain drain to brain (re)gain or “brain circulation.” There are countries (for example, Sudan) that were suffering from brain drain previously but that are now attracting many researchers. Or Kenya, where plans for its own “Silicon Savannah” could very soon turn out to be an important drawcard for the country’s economic activities.
The success of this sort of developments relies heavily on returnees that bring back with them the required scientific expertise from across the board. But it’s not just that. They also their knowledge of local culture and institutions that matter though, sometimes, it is precisely those relations or that knowledge that is slowing down their return. But, as we all know, all sorts of initiatives in the touristic sector will also help build up economic prosperity, especially for the poorest demographics, as we have seen in South Africa.
Often, it’s difficult to go back because there’s so little to work with. Some scientists plan to return as they are offered positions at a university, but they’re often faced with challenges like facilities, funding, or government policies.