Stein, Arthur [faculty advisor, Department of Political Science]
Quainoo, Vanessa [faculty advisor, Department of Communication Studies]
African Diaspora; Brain-drain; Brain-gain; Migration
According to the International Organization for Migration, about one-third of African professionals have left the continent, which constitute as over 10 million African mini-Diasporas as of the year 2000. The loss of Africa’s intellectual capital, called the “Brain-Drain”, has been one of the greatest obstacles to the development of the continent. Of the four major countries contributing most to the brain-drain; Ethiopia, Ghana, Nigeria, and South Africa, this research focuses on Nigeria, my ancestral nation. As the most populated country in Africa, Nigeria represents a large percentage of the African Diaspora, especially in the United States. One study estimates that there are more than 21,000 Nigerian Medical Doctors practicing in the United States alone in the 21st century. Meanwhile Nigeria domestically falls short of the minimum World Health Organization standard of 20 Physicians per 100,000 people. Put urgently, Nigeria is losing human resources necessary for its socio-economic growth.
The purpose of this research is to understand the cause of the Nigerian brain-drain, the socio-economic impact, and ways to reverse the effects of the brain drain, thereby creating a brain-gain. The study is based on literary reviews and my surveys and interviews of Nigerians between the ages of 18-45, which indicates that the Nigerian brain-drain is a product of both “internal” and “external” factors working simultaneously to push Nigerians out of their country and pull them into developed nations respectively. Subsequently, skilled and educated Nigerians are attracted to the Western’s economic opportunities and what they believe to be an easy way of life. However, the brain-drain problem arises when Africans choose not to return to their native country. The data also suggests that Nigerians living abroad do not want to return back mainly due to the lack of an environment conducive for professional growth. In addition to this setback, political instability infused with corruption, and the frustration of dealing with the average Nigerian’s tolerance of corruption and greed discourages people from returning. Thus, the brain-drain continues to increase with 23,000 professionals leaving Africa annually as estimated by the World Bank report in 2007.
Along with the economic impact of the brain drain, the social impact is depicted through the establishment of a two class society with a very small middle class consisting primarily of doctors and engineers. The brain drain will continue to give rise to poor leadership and corruption in Nigeria, unless Nigerians in the African Diaspora, especially in my generation, decide to lend a helping hand to our beloved country. Therefore, my research has identified four strategies for Nigerians living abroad to help reduce the brain-drain and improve the brain-gain with the underlying theme of knowledge transfer. 1) Mobilization of Diaspora through virtual participation with global telecommunication networks, 2) Formulating a National Diaspora policy involving the Nigerian government, 3) Economic share-ship utilizing the dual citizenship status, 4) Connecting Diaspora productively through temporary engagements in Nigeria. Instead of spending over $4 billion per year to employ about 100,000 Western experts, some efforts must be used to recruit Africans abroad to reconnect with their motherland even for a short time to educate and share their knowledge with compatriots in the land of their origin.