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THE BRAIN DRAIN: CAUSES, EFFECTS AND REMEDIES

THE BRAIN DRAIN: CAUSES, EFFECTS AND REMEDIES

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Published by Zambian-Economist
Abstract

African countries continually lose a significant number of trained nationals, who decide to emigrate and live abroad in search of higher incomes and a better standard of living, among a host of other reasons. Between 1974 and 1985, for example, an average of 12,146 technical and professional personnel per year (computed from data collected by Logan ) were admitted to the United States from various countries in Africa. Between 1993 and 1995, the United States admitted 32,317 of the continent’s skilled human re-sources. And, according to the World Bank Group, nearly 70,000 qualified Africans leave their home countries every year to work in industrialized nations.
Clearly, this is a significant loss to a continent that is in dire need of skilled professionals to facilitate and expedite the process of socio-economic development. Without large pools of such pro-fessionals, African countries are not likely to attain meaningful le-vels of economic growth, development and competitiveness.
In this discussion, an attempt is made to discern the causes, ad-verse effects and positive side of the emigration of Africa’s techni-cal and professional personnel, and to suggest viable ways and means of addressing the cancerous problem.
Abstract

African countries continually lose a significant number of trained nationals, who decide to emigrate and live abroad in search of higher incomes and a better standard of living, among a host of other reasons. Between 1974 and 1985, for example, an average of 12,146 technical and professional personnel per year (computed from data collected by Logan ) were admitted to the United States from various countries in Africa. Between 1993 and 1995, the United States admitted 32,317 of the continent’s skilled human re-sources. And, according to the World Bank Group, nearly 70,000 qualified Africans leave their home countries every year to work in industrialized nations.
Clearly, this is a significant loss to a continent that is in dire need of skilled professionals to facilitate and expedite the process of socio-economic development. Without large pools of such pro-fessionals, African countries are not likely to attain meaningful le-vels of economic growth, development and competitiveness.
In this discussion, an attempt is made to discern the causes, ad-verse effects and positive side of the emigration of Africa’s techni-cal and professional personnel, and to suggest viable ways and means of addressing the cancerous problem.

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Published by: Zambian-Economist on Jan 04, 2009
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05/17/2013

 
T
HE
B
RAIN
D
RAIN
:C
AUSES
, E
FFECTS
 
AND
EMEDIES
Henry Kyambalesa
is currently an adjunct professor in the Col-lege for Professional Studies’ MBA program at Regis University inDenver, an Independent Business and Management Researcher andConsultant, and the Founder and President of Agenda for Change(AfC) party in Zambia.
Abstract
African countries continually lose a significant number of trainednationals, who decide to emigrate and live abroad in search of higher incomes and a better standard of living, among a host of other reasons. Between 1974 and 1985, for example, an average of 12,146 technical and professional personnel per year (computedfrom data collected by Logan
1
) were admitted to the United Statesfrom various countries in Africa. Between 1993 and 1995, theUnited States admitted 32,317 of the continent’s skilled human re-sources.
2
And, according to the World Bank Group,
3
nearly 70,000qualified Africans leave their home countries every year to work inindustrialized nations.Clearly, this is a significant loss to a continent that is in direneed of skilled professionals to facilitate and expedite the processof socio-economic development. Without large pools of such pro-fessionals, African countries are not likely to attain meaningfullevels of economic growth, development and competitiveness.In this discussion, an attempt is made to discern the causes, ad-verse effects and positive side of the emigration of Africa’s tech-nical and professional personnel, and to suggest viable ways andmeans of addressing the cancerous problem.
1
Logan, B.I., “The Reverse Transfer of Technology from Sub-Saharan Africato the United States,”
The Journal of Modern African Studies
, Volume 25/Num- ber 4, December 1987.
2
See U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service,
 Fact Book: Summary of  Recent Immigration Data
, August 1995, p. 14, and January 1997; and Kyam- balesa, Henry,
Socio-Economic Challenges: The African Context 
(Trenton, NJ:Africa World Press, Inc., 2004), p. 48.
3
See Allen, Ahkiah, “Medical Migration Drains Africa,”
Washington Week 
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B
RAIN
D
RAIN
: A D
EFINITION
The term “brain drain” may be defined broadly as the migration of trained and talented individuals from one institution, or from onecountry or part of a country, to another in search of better workingconditions, a higher quality of life and/or a less hostile environ-ment. Such migration may, according to the Scientific and Industri-al Research and Development Center (SIRDC),
4
take any of thefollowing forms:1) “Primary external brain drain,” which occurs when trainedand skilled human resources leave their country to go and work in developed countries;2) “Secondary external brain drain,” which occurs whentrained and skilled human resources leave the African Union— or any other less-developed region of the world—to work inother parts of the developing world; or 3) “Internal brain drain,” which occurs when trained andskilled human resources are not employed in the fields of their expertise in their own country, or when such human resourcesmove from the public sector to the private sector or within asector of a particular country.In this paper, the discourse is about the “primary external braindrain” and the “secondary external brain drain” to the exclusion of the “internal brain drain.”C
AUSES
 
OF
 
THE
E
XODUS
There are many factors obtaining in countries which are affected by the brain drain that have contributed to the exodus of skilled tal-ent; following is a survey of some of the salient factors, that is: poor conditions of service, human rights abuses, misplacement of trained personnel, disregard for local talent, scarcity of jobs, lim-ited access to education, poor healthcare services, a high level of crime, and the fear of losing valued relationships developed in hostcountries.
4
Adapted from Scientific and Industrial Research and Development Center (SIRDC), “An Analysis of the Cause and Effect of the Brain Drain in Zimbab-we,”www.queensu.ca/,July 31, 2008.
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Considered from the standpoint of the origin of trained andskilled emigrants, the foregoing causes may be referred to as the“push factors” of professional flight. The inverses of the causes areessentially the “pull factors” from the point of view of emigrants’host countries.
Poor Conditions of Service
Poor conditions of service in migrants’ home countries are, by andlarge, a major reason why African researchers and professionalshave decided to “vote with their feet” so to speak. In Senegal, for example, a study conducted by the Independent Union of Higher Education for Teachers has found that a university lecturer earns between US$246.00 and US$261.50 per month, while a senior pro-fessor at the top of the pay scale earns around US$923.00; their counterparts who emigrate to Europe or North America, on the oth-er hand, earn between three to five times more.
5
In the Republic of Zimbabwe, a massive staff exodus is repor-ted to have “hit the crisis-ridden Zimbabwe Mining DevelopmentCorporation (ZMDC) … with a number of senior managers havingleft the organization citing low remuneration.”
6
At the Universityof Zimbabwe, most faculties have continued to experience a massexodus of professionals due to unsatisfactory remuneration and poor conditions of service.
7
In 2004, the reported lecturer vacancy rates at the Universitywere as follows: (a) the Faculty of Medicine: 51.3 percent; (b) theFaculty of Science: 43 percent; (c) the Department of VeterinarySciences: 36 percent; (d) the Faculty of Education: 35 percent; and(e) the Faculty of Engineering: 34.6 percent.
8
Human Rights Abuses
Human rights abuses or violations in Africa take many forms, in-cluding genocide, slavery, torture, mass disappearances of indi-viduals, denial of freedom of speech, and repudiation of freedomof the press.
9
The following assessment of human rights abuses and
5
Faye, Abdou, “Education: Europe, North America Tapping Africa’s ‘BrainReservoir’,” Inter Press Service News Agency:http://www.ipsnews.net/-africa/,  December 27, 2003.
6
 
The Financial Gazette
, “Massive Staff Exodus Hits ZMDC,” October 14-20,2004, p. C5.
7
 
The Sunday Mail 
(Zimbabwe), “Shortage of Lecturers at UZ Persists Un-abated,” October 24, 2004, p. 5.
8
Ibid.
9
Derechos Human Rights, “Human Rights in Sub-Saharan Africa,”http://www.derechos.org/,October 25, 2008.
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