ICTs Addressing the Brain Drain in Africa

In class, we began to discuss the issue of intellectual flight which happens when educated people in developing countries leave their homes for developed countries to make better lives for themselves.  This has particularly been a problem in Africa.  Gumisai Mutume addresses this issue in an article titled, “Reversing Africa’s ‘brain drain”  He discusses how the United Nations and non-profit organizations have been trying to decrease this brain drain through different initiatives targeting “scientists, medical doctors, engineers, university lecturers, economists, information technologists and other highly skilled people in short supply on the continent” (Mutume).

In order to stop the brain drain, programs have tried to create policies to prolong the educated from leaving such as elongating the amount of years medical students spend in school, proposing taxes for leaving, and making deals with developed countries to not hire these graduates.

African nations have tried to bring the expatriates home, but they have encountered many challenges such as expatriates wanting to be paid similarly to what they were paid abroad and being compensated for their whole families coming with them.  When they do pay these large sums, it attracts too many back home which the individual countries cannot afford.  Even so, this leads to immigration problems in the developed and developing countries.  For people who decide to return home, they may risk not being allowed back in the developed nation where they had been or losing residency.  Additionally, some African nations do not accept dual citizenship.

ICTs can play a significant role in addressing these challenges. The South African Network of Skills Abroad (SANSA) has found “at least 22,000 graduates from five major South African universities resident abroad remain in touch with the universities” (Mutume).  These graduates stay in touch and offer assistance over the internet from abroad.  They have also helped to bring computers and software to their home countries.  These countries are starting to think of innovative ways to address the brain drain without seriously taking a toll on their budgets, and with ICTs, they could make some real development.

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One response to “ICTs Addressing the Brain Drain in Africa

  • etherspace

    The brain drain that Africa is experiencing is a difficult one to address. On one hand, these educated people are desperately needed by their home countries, but on the other hand, it does not seem ethical to deprive them of the possibility of making better lives for themselves. Asking these doctors ect. to stay in their countries where they would experience a poor quality of life is a serious sacrifice.

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