Report Calls for New Efforts to Halt Academic Brain Drain From Africa
The Chronicle of Higher Education
October 24, 2001
By WACHIRA KIGOTHO
Emigration of academics from African universities is one of the greatest obstacles to the continent's development, says a report prepared to help plan the World Summit on Sustainable Development, to be held in Johannesburg in September 2002.
The report, written by Chris Buckley, a researcher in the School of Chemical Engineering at the University of Natal, notes that
Africa has lost one-third of its skilled professionals in recent decades. "The trend, which has come to be known as 'brain drain,' has strangled and delayed economic growth and nurtured poverty," the report says.
About 23,000 qualified academic professionals leave the continent each year, the report says. The countries losing the most academics are Egypt, Kenya, Ghana, Nigeria, and South Africa.
The report cites several reasons for the loss of academics, including the persecution of some professors in some countries because of their views, and the lack of financial support for faculty members and their institutions.
Although the report urges African nations to do more to support higher education financially and to protect the rights of professors, some academic leaders on the continent say that the main problem is that universities in Western countries "raid" the best talent from Africa. The report notes that the high salaries and freedom of expression provided in the West may well be too enticing for some academics to resist.