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Brain drain causes heavy losses for African countries

Discussion in 'International Forum' started by Ustaadh, Nov 16, 2010.

  1. Ustaadh

    Ustaadh JF-Expert Member

    Nov 16, 2010
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    Almost all the developing countries have faced the problem of brain drain. They have seen the mass exodus of skilled intellectual and technical labour. The brain drain of a nation becomes the brain-gain of another. Poor countries in Africa and Asia face the negative consequences emanating from brain drain. As a result, developing countries are not able to sustain a meaningful level of economic growth, competitiveness and development.

    It has been generally observed that individuals with little or no education generally have limited access to international migration. Previously, Western Europe lost its talented professionals, especially to the United States, up until the 1960s. The developing countries have emerged in recent years as the biggest suppliers of qualified professionals to the industrialised world.

    Today, there are more than a million expatriates from the developing countries in Western Europe, US, Japan and Canada. The US's education system and its research institutions are heavily dependent on them. These migrant professionals contribute in no small way to increasing the disparities between the world's rich and poor nations. And it is the developing countries that need them most.

    Countries and centres of academic excellence, which offer these attractions have received the largest numbers of professional migrants and these have, in turn, made substantial contributions, not only to the economic growth of their hosts, but also to the scientific and technological advancement of humanity.

    The wave of German scientists who moved to the US after the Second World War, and their discoveries and inventions, come readily to mind. On a global level, the free movement and interaction of highly skilled people is a positive thing. But the cost to the home countries of losing their professionals is incalculable. A country invests a lot in the training and education of its citizen.

    In terms of who has borne the brunt of the brain drain, Africa is at the top. It is estimated to have lost 60, 000 professionals (doctors, university lecturers, engineers, surveyors, etc) between 1985 and 1990 and to have been losing an average of 20,000 annually ever since.

    Africa has paid a heavy cost, with the health sector having suffered the most. The mass exodus of health professionals has eroded the ability of medical and social services in several sub-Saharan countries to deliver even basic health and social needs. Thirty-eight of the 47 sub-Saharan African countries fall short of the minimum World Health Organisation (WHO) standard of 20 physicians per 100,000 people.

    The statistics are as follows: Since 1990, Africa has been losing 20,000 professionals annually;
    Over 300,000 professionals reside outside Africa;
    Ethiopia lost 75 per cent of its skilled workforce between 1980-91;
    It costs $40,000 to train a doctor in Kenya; $15,000 for a university student.

    Some 35 per cent of total ODA to Africa is spent on expatriate professionals.
    The primary cause of external brain drain in is unreasonably low wages paid to African professionals. The contradiction is that Africa spends nearly about four billion dollars annually to recruit and pay 100,000 expatriates to work in Africa but has failed to spend a proportional amount to recruit the 250,000 African professionals now working outside Africa. African professionals working in Africa are paid considerably less than similarly qualified expatriates.

    We must also not forget a fact that it is utter nonsense to assume that it is possible to stop the flow that is at the very basis of human nature: to strive for better: Unless one reverts globalization, imposes rigorous restrictions on immigration, and suppresses civil liberties. To stop the brain drain, Africa must evolve to compete at the same level as the rest of the world for the 'best humans'. Democracy, security and better living standards. Unless Africa achieve these minimum prerequisites, the brain drain will not only continue, but it could also amplify.
  2. mtandawazi

    mtandawazi Member

    Nov 16, 2010
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    Your thoughtful analysis commands my respect to you! It is true the rise of skilled workforce from developing countries in rich countries is a story that keeps growing in the telling, and this has far-reaching negative consequences to the former. But wait... some recent experiences have started to show positives as well; which some pundits assert that advantages break the scale in the long run.

    Taking one country as an example, I think India is one of the most affected countries by the so called brain drain. For instance about one-third of Silicon Valley engineers are Indians. Wall Street is replete with Indians. In the US, Indian Americans are the fastest growing ethnic group (up 106% in the 1990s), now estimated at almost three million. This Indian migration to the US was once castigated as a brain drain but more recently it has been renamed brain circulation or brain gain, with many migrants returning back to India. Economist Deena Khatkhate (in his book Money, Finance, Political Economy) was among the earliest to contest the brain drain thesis. He saw the exodus as a safety valve for educated Indians unable to find enough jobs in India. He also highlighted the way the Indian Diaspora catalysed changes in social, political and economic attitudes in India, paving the way for economic reform.

    Other proponents of the convergence school of thought look at brain drain from a functionalist perspective. They argue that the human capital investment made in the high-level migrants is partly recovered through remittances. Although not many economy-wide studies have been conducted on the effects of migrant remittances on African countries, it is often emphasized that while emigration countries lose manpower and particularly the "best and brightest", they also get something in return. Migrants who work abroad usually send part of their income to their families in the home country. They also contend that remittances promote development by improving income distribution and quality of life by loosening production and investment constraints faced by households in the sending countries; after all, migration decisions are part of family strategies to raise income, obtain funds to invest in new activities, and insure against income and production risks.

    The economic impact of remittances has been considered beneficial at both the micro and macro levels. The value of migrant remittances can significantly exceed that of national export earnings for instance, Eritrea receives about 40 % of its GDP through remittances, whereas exports contribute about 4% to the GDP. Available estimates indicate that there has been rapid growth in the volume of global remittances in recent decades, from less than US$2 billion in 1970 to US$70 billion in 1995, surpassing Official Development Assistance (ODA).

    Those who argue against the issue of remittances often emphasize their unproductive nature. They say, not only are remittances insufficient to compensate for human capital losses, they, increase dependency, contribute to political instability, engender economic distortions, and hinder development because they are unpredictable and undependable and encourage the consumption of goods with high import content.

    It is imperative to note that there is a need to eliminate poverty in Africa, and not merely reducing it by sending money to relatives. Indeed, in any country of Africa, human capital is much more valuable than financial capital because it is only a nation's human capital that can be converted into real wealth.
  3. D

    DrMosha Member

    Nov 16, 2010
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    As with all phenomena, there will be an upside to the above.
    When the right time comes, these migrant experts will go back to Africa and do the wonders Chinese and Indians have done
    Indians and Chinese who excelled in the US later (at the opportune time) went home and made their contribution
    Lets be optimistic
  4. Kinyambiss

    Kinyambiss JF-Expert Member

    Nov 16, 2010
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    Optimism goes with realism. What can you do in Tanzania if your specialty is nano-engineering or String Theory.. there is no possibility of dong any productive research. However,in time even Africa will have experts in decent numbers, at the moment the focus is on health experts and scientific research experts but soon the thousands of graduates per year will change the scene.
  5. Dingswayo

    Dingswayo JF-Expert Member

    Nov 16, 2010
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    I have often wondered why there is myriad of western 'experts' are sent to developing countries through development aid programmes. Generally speaking, there are lots of experts from the developing world living and working in the developed countries. Recently, due to the economic recession, most of these experts whose origin is from the developing world, are without employment or any meaningful jobs related to their expertise. These could be used effectively in the developing world as experts through development aid programmes. In this way, there will be a reverse of the brain drain.
  6. Juma Contena

    Juma Contena JF-Expert Member

    Nov 17, 2010
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    I can't speak for the rest of Africa as economic ambitions vary from nation to nation, however certainly Tanzania has no such problem to the extent we're asked to believe at this moment in time. Thus such arguments are just fancy talk in trying to escape discussing real issues and causes of our problems in our part.

    Brain drain in Tanzania? Yet, we are reminded so often of idle Professors or highly skilled workers having to settle for position where none of their expertise are being exploited. Whilst those lucky enough to be fitted in their fields of excellence, the wages offered do not meet the ends needs in most cases. Considering there is the 'pull demand' for their skills elsewhere, that offers better quality of life only a fool will refuse a chance given the opportunity.

    These are just the kind of researches done by ambitous economist with no visions nor ever setting afoot on places they choose to wright about. End results are based on a reduction of a general theory in this case 'economy migrants' reduced into 'brain drain', as if the latter group had a variety of options at first. It is just an attempt to ignore the politics and the state of the economy, ideas that were embedded in the parent theory that can lead to push factor. Thereafter trying to reverse the perspective from the recipient point of view reducing it into skilled worker and make an unnecessary argument.

    Well nothing as changed back here 'Brain drains' are just economic migrants regardless, we still have the same push factors. Therefore 'still having the same problems' is the problems wich ought to be discussed, its the only way we can keep our brains at home. An economy that relies on tourism, imports and higher taxation aint gonna be able to hold on to a nuclear expert nor value his knowledge, particularly when the masses rely on biomass for energy consumption.
  7. Abdulhalim

    Abdulhalim JF-Expert Member

    Nov 17, 2010
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    Brother Juma,

    Nakubaliana na wewe.

    Kwa nchi kama Tz ambapo wageni wanaingia na kutoka bila utaratibu kama ngomani, its hard enough how the brain drain could be quantified. Mwenyeji hathaminiwi, hapewi kipaumbele cha ajira, na akipewa ajira analipwa mshahara mbuzi. Mi nadhani with time na globalization inavyo-dictate mambo, hizi movements za nguvukazi,bidhaa, huduma na mitaji zitafuata kule kwene faida au mafao zaidi. Hivo ndio forces of nature zinavyoamua, maji hayapandi mlima bali hushuka bondeni. Lakini bado lipo dirisha la kuangalia jinsi ya kufaidika na globalisation na kuminimize effects.

    Kwa sasa kama taifa tulipo, we have not invested enough kwene industries na kuwatrain watu massively. Effects of globalisation are also catching with us fast bcoz we don't produce much of the processed goods and services. We have allowed our country to be a playground market kwa bidhaa za kila namna, zenye viwango na zile famba bila ya udhibiti wowote wa maana. Kusema watu warejee tu bila ya kujua watafit wapi pia haitosaidia kitu. Kuwa na savvy labor force bila ya kuwa industrial stronghold is equally useless.

    Sasa where to break the cycle ndio ishu ya maana ya kujadili, IMO, serikali ingetazama wapi pa invest au kutoa incentives kwa watu binafsi ili ku-establish viwanda vidogo na vya kati, walau kwa kuanzia waweze kufeed local markets kwene bidhaa zote ndogondogo. Hapa kutakuwa na kuua ndege 2 kwa jiwe moja, maana soko ni letu na wazalishaji ni sisi wenyewe. Then, tunaeza kujadili hatua ya pili ya ku-break the cycle.
  8. Juma Contena

    Juma Contena JF-Expert Member

    Nov 17, 2010
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    kaka abdulhalim,

    so far kwetu wala si utaratibu wa ngomani tena eti kuingia na kutoka, hapa tulipo wakati huu mi nadhani na utaratibu wa disco mziki umeisha haya makwenu sasa. Kwanini nasema hivi in the last two decades instead of increasing and encouraging internal growth with some form of protectionism policies kuweza fika popote. Sisi ndio tume fanya vice versa in the last two decades tumeweza achieve deindustrialization ya hali ya juu in the urban areas na tumeacha brownfields in the rural areas. Hapo cha kujiuliza wale maexpert wa mashamba tena sijui wameendea wapi na wala mameneja sijui wameishia wapi. Badala ya kuongeza employment ndio kwanza tunaongeza unemployment.

    Kwa mfumo wa tanzania hawa watu watapachikwa sehemu kama wanajuana na watu. Matokeo yake ni kumzuia John ambae kamaliza elimu yake halafu hana connection bongo kuweza fika popote. Therefore by shutting production hiwe kilimo au production line. We're also reducing the chances of accomodating the new workforce and expansion, end result this group will just end up of becoming potential economic migrants, ambao wenzetu wanataka kuwaita brain drain.

    kwa sisi sasa hivi (the public) kuweza kuja na mbinu yoyote inakuwa ngumu especially the rate of interests on loans, na amount of entepreneurs we have to be able to have an impact on national scale. Hatuna budi zaidi ya Serikali ku-nurture our capitalism hili tuweze fika popote. Inakuwa kama tuition serikali ina invest kwa kufufua viwanda na kuuza shares kwa wananchi, wanaweka mameneja wa maana na kuanza kuuelewesha Umma na matajiri wetu jinsi mambo yanavoenda. Vinginevyo kwetu matajiri watabaki wenye magorofa na mabasi, ooh na wabunge.

    its time we exploit other sectors kitaifa hila serikali inabidi iwashike mkono wengi mwanzo kuvuka barabara, na wanaoweza vuka wenyewe wavuke. That is not socialism hila wengi wetu wenyewe atuwezi kwa sasa, maana nasoma kuna mikopo wengine hawaitumii. Lakini hayo huwa ni matokeo ya kutojua na ni vitu vigeni kwa wengi wetu. Matokeo yake tunaagiza mpaka sabuni za kuogea wakati tuna huge unemployment within, with no risk takers to take us to the next phase.

    PS usiku mwema
  9. Mziba

    Mziba JF-Expert Member

    Nov 17, 2010
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    Here you Ustaadh! An Iron Clad answer. Jibu Chuma!!!!! I agree with Dingswayo completely. Just work with what you got, ustaadh. But, on the other hand, I have read, on this forum, about quality of tanzania workforce from an employer stand point. According to the post, Tanzanian Employees do not have good work ethics. As a result business decides to seek talent outside Tanzania. Its a serious issue to be considered. However, check out Tanzanian in Diasporas. I think the previous Tanzania Adminstration had begun to work on this subject. you might have reliable data to help as well.