Combatting Africa's Brain Drain
African Scientists Ask G8+5
To Join Battle Against 'Brain Drain'
Cate Jensen reports on the U.S. National Academies Website on June 11, 2009 that:
For many decades, some of Africa's most talented and educated citizens have migrated to other parts of the world. It is estimated that approximately one-third of native-born African scientists live and work in developed countries. In a statement issued today to governments attending next month's G8+5 summit in Italy, the Network of African Science Academies (NASAC) -- representing 13 science academies across the continent -- calls for a new approach to Africa's "brain drain."
NASAC states that Africa’s policy and political instability comes in part from a lack of a "critical mass of world-class scientists and technologists” to address key scientific, technological, and economic problems. By some estimates, nearly 1 million researchers are necessary to address Africa's critical needs. Much of the capacity for change, the statement says, is in African governments' hands. Individual nations must implement policies that improve living and working conditions in order to keep African scientists from emigrating.
The network calls for a more advanced approach focusing on the opportunities for "science and technology capacity building" in Africa gained by short-term visits abroad and joint projects in developed countries, instead of solely on the deficits that today's brain drain creates. This approach would recognize that progress in science and technology depends on international cooperation and exchange with scientists being able to move freely across borders.
NASAC acknowledged that while efforts have been made by some African nations -- as well as ongoing work from organizations such as the African Union (AU) -- they are still insufficient. Outside assistance is vital, especially in order to provide adequate resources for research in Africa. The NASAC statement lists problems that need to be addressed and calls on the G8+5 countries to assist in areas such as investing in the creation and reconstruction of universities and research centers in Africa.